1614Published on March 11, 2019
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina today said bilateral relations between Bangladesh and India have appeared as a “role model” of good neighbourliness for the rest of the world, expressing her firm belief that this cooperation will also continue in future.
“As a result of multifaceted and multi-dimensional cooperation, our bilateral relations have become a role model of good neighbourliness for the rest of the world. I strongly believe that this momentum will continue,” she said while jointly inaugurating four projects with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi through a videoconference.
Sheikh Hasina said over the last decade, two countries have witnessed remarkable progress on cooperation in different conventional and unconventional areas like security, power, trade and commerce, energy, connectivity, infrastructure development, environment, renewable energy, education, culture, people-to-people contact and health.
At the same time, she said, the two countries have expanded cooperation in newer areas e.g. blue economy and maritime cooperation, peaceful uses of nuclear energy, cooperation in outer space, internet bandwidth sharing, cyber security etc.
The schemes opened by the two prime ministers are supply of Double Decker and Single Decker AC and Non-AC Buses and Trucks to Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (under the 2nd Line of Credit), 36 Community Clinics in 5 Districts (Jamalpur, Sherpur, Habiganj, Sunamganj and Brahmanbaria) under grant financing of the Government of India; 11 Water Treatment Plants in Bhandaria Pouroshova, Pirojpur District (under grant financing of the Government of India) and National Knowledge Network (NKN) Extension to Bangladesh.
The Bangladesh premier joined the videoconference from her official Ganabhaban residence in Dhaka, while Narendra Modi joined it from her office in New Delhi.
They jointly inaugurated the four projects by unveiling the e-plaques. At the function, short videos on the projects were screened.
Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr AK Abdul Momen and Indian External Affairs Minister Sushama Swaraj also spoke joining the videoconference.
Sheikh Hasina reiterated Bangladesh’s firm commitment to stamping out terrorism, saying that it will never allow its land to be used by any terrorist organization.
“We remain steadfast in our resolve to root out the scourge of terrorism from our region and beyond through bilateral, regional and multilateral cooperation,” she said.
She added Bangladesh maintains a ‘zero tolerance policy’ against terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and will never allow its land to be used by any terrorist organization.
The Bangladesh premier expressed her utmost sympathy for the family members of the deceased personnel who were killed in the Pulwama attack in Kashmir last month.
“We reiterate our strong condemnation of this dastardly act,” she said.
The Bangladesh premier mentioned that this is her first videoconference with the Indian premier after her assumption of office as the Prime Minister for the third consecutive term.
“In this connection, I thank you once again for your congratulatory phone call immediately after the declaration of the election results,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said she is elated to join this formal inauguration of the four projects. “It’s a matter of great satisfaction that today some of the projects under the 2nd Line of Credit provided by India to Bangladesh are coming close to completion,” she said.
The premier said she is happy that under the LoC projects, 600 buses (300 Double-Decker, 200 AC Single Decker, and 100 Non-AC Single Decker) and 500 (350 16-tonne and 150 10-tonne) trucks will be added to the fleet of the Bangladesh Road Transport Corporation (BRTC).
“I hope it will provide relief to the daily commuters in Bangladesh and will also help ease the traffic congestion on our highways to some extent,” she said.
The prime minister said Bangladesh welcomes the friendly gesture of the Government of India to establish 36 community clinics in 5 districts and 11 water treatment plants in Bhandaria through grant financing.
“With more than 14,000 units operational across the country, Community Clinics are an integral part of the health system in rural Bangladesh and a hugely successful flagship program of my government,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said these are contributing towards making basic healthcare, family planning and nutrition services available right at the grassroots level.
“I also appreciate the extension of National Knowledge Network (NKN) to Bangladesh. I hope this will increase the capability of our researchers by enhancing their access to the universities, research institutions, libraries, laboratories, healthcare and agricultural institutions across India,” she said.
The premier thanked the Indian prime minister for his time to jointly inaugurate these four projects today. “I also thank the teams in both India and Bangladesh for their efforts to put together today’s inauguration ceremony. I look forward to jointly celebrating more such success stories of our collective endeavours in future,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina gratefully recalled the crucial contribution of the Government and the people of India during Bangladesh’s War of Liberation, which remains an eternal milestone in the relations between the two countries.
The premier said for Bangladesh, March is the month of Liberation. On 7th March 1971, our Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman made a clarion call to the Bengali people for the liberation of Bangladesh from the shackles of the then West Pakistan, she said.
“Responding to his call, the people of the then East Pakistan joined the War of Liberation and we attained final victory on the 16th December 1971 after a 9-month bloody war,” she said.
The Indian prime minister in his speech highly appreciated Bangladesh’s tremendous development saying that this (development) is a matter of happiness and inspiration for India.
Highlighting India-Bangladesh cooperation, Modi said India feels pride by remaining beside Bangladesh to help materialise its Vision 2021 and 2041.
The Indian prime minister said the bilateral relations between the two countries stood on a solid foundation during the previous tenures of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina. “I hope that these ties will be strengthened further in the days to come,” he said.
Education Minister Dr Dipu Moni, PM’s Advisers HT Imam and Dr Moshiur Rahman, State Minister for LGRD and Cooperatives Swapan Bhattacharya, State Ministers for Health and Family Welfare Dr Murad Hasan, UGC Chairman Prof Abdul Mannan, PM’s Principal Secretary Md Nojibur Rahman and Principal Coordinator on the SDG Affairs at the PMO Md Abul Kalam Azad, Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque, PM’s Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim and Indian High Commissioner in Dhaka Riva Ganguly Das were present at Ganabhaban.
Bangladesh’s young parliamentarians, now on a visit to India, were present at the Prime Minister’s Office in New Delhi.
The prime minister later talked to the cross section of people including public representatives, government officials, students, teachers and beneficiaries of different projects in Kamalapur BRTC Headquarters in Dhaka, the University Grants Commission in Dhaka, Bhanadaria of Pirojepur, Dewanganj of Jamalpur through videoconference.
The Indian premier said that her country would continue their support in the days to come to help Bangladesh becoming a developed country by 2041.
“The development of Bangladesh is a matter of joy and also inspirational for us. It will be a pride for us to help Bangladesh in materialising the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s ‘Vision 2021’ to be a middle-income country and ‘Vision 2041’ to be a developed one,” he said.
Describing relationship between Bangladesh and India as like a family, Modi said the two neighbours introduced a ‘Golden Chapter’ of relationship.
“I personally feel proud for working to this end,” he said, adding that the relations between India and Bangladesh would reach another height in the next five years.
Speaking on the four projects inaugurated in Bangladesh by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and himself, the Indian prime minister said, “These schemes are directly linked with the life of the people and these will play an effective role in improving living standard of Bangladeshi people.”
Putting emphasis on increasing connectivity through sharing knowledge, Modi said that Bangladeshi scholars and researchers can use the Indian National Knowledge Network to further consolidate the relationship between Bangladesh and India.
On giving 1,100 buses and trucks to BRTC under the line of credit, the Indian premier said that it would help to ensure affordable public transport in Bangladesh, while construction of 11 water treatment plants would ensure safe drinking water to thousands of people.
Regarding setting up 36 community clinics in five Bangladeshi districts under grant finance by the Indian government, he also said that around two lakh people would get healthcare services at their doorsteps.
“These projects are very important for people-to-people contact between the two countries. I hope such cooperation between Bangladesh and India will continue,” he said.
The Indian premier also thanked Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina as she expressed sympathy to family members of the Indian troops killed in the Pulwama attack in Kashmir last month.
Referring to six times videoconferencing with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Modi said that this is an evident how deep the relations between India and Bangladesh are.
The Indian premier again congratulated Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on her party’s landslide victory in the national elections held on December 30 last.
While exchanging views with the cross section of people after the videoconference, the Bangladesh prime minister termed India as a tested friend of Bangladesh.
“Whatever Indian government came to power it extended help to Bangladesh and we had made the BRTC profitable through that assistance,” she said.
Sheikh Hasina said at the advice of the World Bank, the BNP government took a decision to shut down the BRTC by showing the state-run transport company as a loss-making body.
In this connection, the premier said the common people travel in the BRTC buses. “So we’ll have to see whether communication and movement of the people are smooth or not,” she said, adding it is the responsibility of the government to ensure facilities of the people.
She also put emphasis on making BRTC a profitable organisation and proper maintenance of its buses and trucks.
While exchanging views with the UGC teachers and other staffers, Sheikh Hasina said her government always gives importance to carry out research as no country can be developed without it.
“We’re going to enact a new law to further strengthen the UGC,” she said.
The prime minister thanked Narendra Modi as his government is continuing help for the development of various sectors of Bangladesh.
Mentioning the implementation of the land boundary agreement between the two countries, Sheikh Hasina said the two neighbours have set an example of resolving so many problems.