Dhaka [Bangladesh], March 9 (ANI): Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday lauded India for "building a prosperous region together" and wished for a "successful operation and utilisation" of the Maitri Setu built on River Feni.
"50 years ago, in 1971, India opened up its border for Bangladesh's people to support their freedom struggle; today we are building a prosperous region together. I wish successful operation and utilisation of the Feni Maitri Setu," said Hasina while inaugurating the bridge alongside Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conferencing.
"It's my immense pleasure to inaugurate the Maitri Setu today together with Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The event is taking place at a time when we are celebrating the birth centenary of Father of the Nation - Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, the golden jubilee of Bangladesh's independence, and the 50th year of India-Bangladesh diplomatic relations."
"The opening of any bridge is a testimony to the Bangladesh government's continued commitment to support our neighbour India in strengthening connectivity in the region particularly for the North-East of India," she added.
The Feni Maitri Setu is expected to improve the socio-economic condition of the people of Tripura and the surrounding north-eastern states of India and will also contribute to improving the livelihoods of those residing on the Bangladesh side of the bridge.
The proposal to build the bridge over River Feni was put forth by former Tripura chief minister Manik Sarkar in 2010 for business communities of India's north-eastern region in order to use Chattogram Port.
"We considered the request very positively. Since then, the government of Bangladesh has extended all necessary support to the Indian side for the construction of the bridge. Ten years later, today, the bridge is a reality. This bridge will be a lifeline for the north-east of India, as you all know that Bangladesh has allowed the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for the movements of good to and fro from India," said Hasina.
With the opening up of the Feni Bridge, movement of goods between West Bengal and the land-locked Indian northeastern states can take place through Bangladesh.
Earlier, the nearest seaport for Agartala was Kolkata, which is over 1,600 kilometres away. However, today, Agartala's nearest seaport is Chattogram and the distance through Bangladesh is less than 100 kilometres.
Expressing her delight over the achievement, the Bangladesh Prime Minister said, "Undoubtedly, this is a historic moment, we are creating a new era in South Asia for providing connectivity to India. We are in a region which has remained conservative in opening up and where inter-regional trade is far below potential."
Talking about the physical barriers in the region, she said, "I believe, political boundaries should not become physical barriers to trade. We are expecting that the framework we are inaugurating will also help Bangladesh to trade more easily not only with India but also with Nepal and Bhutan."
Asserting Dhaka's prominence in textile, Hasina added: "Bangladesh's growth trajectory along with its geographic location makes it an extremely attractive neighbour in South Asia as one of the leaders in the global textile industry. We have carved a distinct path for ourselves and the country has become a favoured destination for foreign investments."
She expressed her willingness to make Dhaka a connectivity hub and said: "Bangladesh is ready to maximise its locational advantage as connectivity hub between South and Southeast Asia. We believe that the cross-border transport system that Bangladesh is developing with India is a step in this regard, which will allow us to play an important role in regional trade, and commerce." (ANI)