Dhaka, Feb. 10 (PTI): India today allowed the diversion of a $200-million grant from a $1-billion (Rs 5,400cr) credit line given to Bangladesh for the neighbour’s graft-hit Padma bridge.
“We haven’t begun any formal talks on financing the Padma bridge. If Bangladesh wishes, it can use a $200-million grant from India’s $1-billion credit line,” foreign secretary Ranjan Mathai said at a news conference with Bangla counterpart Shahidul Haque.
The move comes nine days after Dhaka withdrew requests for a World Bank loan of $1.2 billion for the bridge following the global agency’s earlier suspension of credit over the graft allegations.
Mathai said the size of the project at $3 billion (over Rs 16,000 crore) meant no partner alone would be able to provide all the finance. He suggested Bangladesh seek funds from other partners but said New Delhi had no objections if Dhaka wanted to utilise the $200-million grant (over Rs 1,000cr) for the 6km bridge, touted as one of Asia’s longest.
Mathai’s tour comes ahead of foreign minister Salman Khurshid’s Dhaka visit on February 16-17. The foreign secretary, who also called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, said the process was under way to quickly disburse the $200-million grant.