Sept 19 (NIA) – India, on Monday, gave its nod to commence a 1.4 billion dollar project to construct and upgrade 558 km of roads to link it with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal and ease the movement of passengers and cargo.
The project will be a part of India’s larger efforts to increase inter-regional trade by 60 per cent.
The project was given an official nod by India’s Department of Economic Affairs with 50 per cent funding from the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The project will cover West Bengal and Manipur on the Indian side, as of now, officials said.
The mandate to complete the project will be two years.
“The primary idea behind the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal (BBIN) road initiative is to improve ground connectivity in the region,” Leena Nandan, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Road Transport and Highways told IANS.
“We have taken up five highway stretches in the country, which are very important for such a connectivity to succeed. This project is entirely different and new — and about to be rolled out.”
The four South Asian nations, led by India’s Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari from the Indian side, had signed a landmark Motor Vehicles Agreement in June last year in the Bhutan capital Thimpu to regulate passenger, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic among the South Asian neighbours.
Although India’s Transport Minister, Nitin Gadkari had continuously said that Sri Lanka would also be part of the road connectivity project, Sri Lanka had denied such reports stating that it had not held any discussions with India in this regard.
Gadkhari said that India was set to build a sea bridge and tunnel from Rameshwaram in southern India to Sri Lanka’s north as part of its connectivity project and the tunnel which would cost Indian Rs 24,000 crore would be fully funded by the ADB.
Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena said his government would not be imprudent and unpatriotic by giving its nod to construct such a bridge.