New ‘Silk Route’ Via Bangladesh To Connect North-East India

AGARTALA, Dec 26: State-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) will build a new ‘Silk Route‘ via Bangladesh – a 50 km road connecting India‘s landlocked northeastern states with neighboring countries – a top company official said.

ONGC will invest Rs.250 million ($5.5 million) in Bangladesh for the project that will also see a port coming up in the country.

‘With the establishment of the new ‘Silk Route’ via Bangladesh, a new trade road would be established between northeast India, Bangladesh and neighboring countries,’ ONGC chairman and managing director R.S. Sharma told reporters.

The old ‘Silk Route’ between India and China is accessible only after crossing West Bengal’s Siliguri district.

‘ONGC’s new subsidiary — ONGC Tripura Power Company (OTPC) — signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Bangladesh government last month to open up a new transport corridor to carry heavy equipment for its 726 MW power plant in Tripura,’ the company chief said.

To develop the port and the road, ONGC has engaged six Bangladesh contractors to complete the work on a war-footing. ‘The work on all the required infrastructure has commenced and is expected to be ready by mid-February 2011,’ Sharma said.

The contractors will work under the supervision of the Roads and Highways Department of Bangladesh.

To materialize this new transport corridor, ONGC would develop a major jetty at Ashuganj port, construct around 16 by-passes on water bodies and repair, strengthen, widen roads between Sultanpur and Akhaurah border along Agartala.

‘The new transit route through Bangladesh will cut down the commissioning time of the power plant by around eight months compared to the earlier plans of transporting machinery through a far challenging, terrain crammed and complex route of the hilly northeastern states,’ the ONGC chief said.

‘This new ‘Silk Route’ would not only benefit all the eight northeastern states, it would also boost the trade and economy between the region and the neighboring countries,’ Sharma said.

The northeastern states are surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China and the only land route accessible to these states from India is through Assam. But this route passes through hilly terrain with steep roads and multiple hairpin bends.

(Courtesy: IANS)

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