NEW DELHI -- Indo-Bangladesh ties gained further strength when officials from the Transport, Home and Foreign Affairs Ministries from both sides met in Shillong on the 4th of June to review the progress of the passenger bus services between the two countries.
Transport Commissioners and representatives of Transport Corporations of Assam, West Bengal, Tripura and Meghalaya, and officials of Ministry of Road Transport & Highways, External Affair and BSF attended the meeting on the Indian side.
The Bangladesh officials included Joint Secretary, Road Transport Ministry and officials from Ministry of Foreign Affair and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation.
The bus operators from both countries were also present in the meeting. The objective of the meeting was to take stock of the bus services plying on four routes between the two countries, and bring in improvement wherever possible to facilitate smooth and comfortable movement of passengers.
The meeting discussed the need for improving visa clearance facilities so as to make the clearance faster. For this, Bangladesh proposes to strengthen its existing Consulate in Agartala In addition to this, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has approved setting up another Bangladesh Consulate in Guwahati . The meeting also discussed issues like improving passenger amenities on both sides. A demand for adding a stoppage in Bangladesh on the Kolkata-Dhaka route and the issue of rationalizing fares were also taken up in the meeting .
This review meeting was the first of its kind since the earliest protocol was signed between the two countries in 1999 to start a bus service between Kolkata and Dhaka. The next review meeting has been scheduled for the last week of June in Guwahati.
Bus services are currently being operated on four routes between India and Bangladesh. These include
i. Kolkata to Agartala via Dhaka –three buses operated on round trip basis by Tripura Road Transport Corporation/ WB Surface Transport Corporation and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation. This service has helped to bring down travel distance Kolkata and Agartala from 1550 Km along the traditional Siliguri-Guwahati-Silchar route to just 640 km along the new route.
ii. Dhaka to Guwahati via Shillong – one bus on round trip basis by Assam State Transport Corporation and Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation
These two services were flagged off from Dhaka in June last year, by the Prime Ministers of the two countries. In addition, there are two earlier services
iii. Kolkata – Dhaka
These services are in operation since the year 2000.
The operation of the passenger buses between the two countries is part of the ongoing efforts to enhance regional cooperation. India and Bangladesh have both signed the BBIN Motor Vehicle Agreement, along with Bhutan and Nepal, which aims to regulate passenger and cargo vehicular traffic between the four countries and provide seamless movement of people and goods across their borders for the benefit and integration of the region and its economic development.