New Delhi, Aug. 7: The Centre has finalised 13 routes for bus services between the country and Bangladesh, which includes a direct bus route from Agartala to Calcutta via Bangaldeshi territory.
The route, which the Centre has been negotiating since 1980s, will cut the distance of 1,700km between the two Indian cities to 400km. The new route is expected to reduce the cost of transport both for passengers and commercial traffic.
The Bangladesh government till now had not allowed Indian vehicles to pass through this narrow strip of land, which diplomats often refer to as “chicken’s neck”.
The first service between the two countries, the Calcutta-Dhaka bus, was started in 1999. In 2001, a bus service between Agartala and Dhaka also started.
Other than this, the Maitreyi Express runs between Calcutta and Dhaka.
But India had been pressing for more bus routes between the two nations, especially from other northeastern states and more entry and exit routes for private vehicles.
During Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s visit to Dhaka last year, the two governments signed a bilateral agreement for “regulation of passenger and vehicular cargo traffic”.
Based on the agreement, the Union government formed an inter-state nodal committee comprising representatives of Assam, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Tripura and Bengal.
After several rounds of discussion, the 13 routes were formalised, which would originate from Bengal, Tripura, Meghalaya and Assam.
Other than the 13 routes, the Centre has also recommended entry and exit points for private vehicles from Tripura, Meghalaya, Assam and Mizoram.
Under the agreement, both countries will allow passenger, cargo and personal vehicles of either country to ply in each other’s territory. The two countries have also agreed to impose an upper and lower limit for the number of vehicles and types of vehicles.
According to the agreement, no overstay of vehicle would be permitted except during a natural calamity and no major repair shall be carried out on another’s soil, except in the event of an accident, which the drivers have to inform to authorities concerned.