Bangladesh stalls PM Modi’s road link plan

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Front Page - Moushumi Das Gupta moushumi.gupta@hin­dus­tan­times.com

CROSS­BOR­DER TRADE Neigh­bour says all four mem­ber na­tions of the ini­tia­tive, Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia and Nepal, must rat­ify it With­out the for­mal con­sent of Bhutan, this pro­vi­sion tech­ni­cally re­stricts the other three coun­tries to move ahead with the plan for phased im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment...

The am­bi­tious sub-re­gional road con­nec­tiv­ity plan in­volv­ing Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia and Nepal (BBIN), an ini­tia­tive that was be­ing pushed by Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi to boost re­gional in­te­gra­tion, seems to have hit an­other road­block.

After Bhutan de­cided not to rat­ify the BBIN mo­tor ve­hi­cle (MV) agree­ment last year fol­low­ing do­mes­tic op­po­si­tion, In­dia had de­cided to op­er­a­tionalise the pact with the other two mem­bers — Bangladesh and Nepal.

But gov­ern­ment sources said Bangladesh has now thrown a span­ner to In­dia’s plan by ex­press­ing its in­abil­ity to come on board till the time Bhutan makes its “for­mal stance” on the agree­ment clear. Sources said Bangladesh backed out of the pro­posed meet­ing of the three coun­tries called by In­dia’s Union road trans­port and high­ways min­istry on Septem­ber 7-8 at Ban­ga­lore to fi­nalise the pro­to­col to make the MV agree­ment op­er­a­tional.

Though In­dia, Bangladesh and Nepal have rat­i­fied the pact, un­less pro­to­cols are fi­nalised, the MV agree­ment can­not be im­ple­mented.

In a writ­ten com­mu­ni­ca­tion to In­dia, Bangladesh cited Ar­ti­cle XVI of the BBIN which man­dates that the MV agree­ment has to be rat­i­fied by all four coun­tries to make it op­er­a­tional.

“Hence, with­out the for­mal con­sent of Bhutan, this pro­vi­sion tech­ni­cally re­stricts the other three coun­tries to move ahead with the plan for phased im­ple­men­ta­tion of the agree­ment,” the Bangladesh gov­ern­ment has com­mu­ni­cated to In­dia.

The pact will al­low seam­less move­ment of pas­sen­ger and cargo ve­hi­cles among the four coun­tries.

Un­der the BBIN agree­ment the “con­tract­ing par­ties” will al­low cargo ve­hi­cles for in­ter-coun­try cargo in­clud­ing third coun­try cargo and pas­sen­ger ve­hi­cles or per­sonal ve­hi­cles to ply in the ter­ri­tory of an­other con­tract­ing coun­try “sub­ject to the terms of the agree­ment”.

“In the above cir­cum­stances, the pro­posed three coun­try meet­ing through the in­vi­ta­tion of MoRTH, In­dia at Ban­ga­lore would not be fruit­ful at this mo­ment,” the com­mu­ni­ca­tion fur­ther states.

The BBIN agree­ment was signed in Bhutan’s cap­i­tal Thimpu in June 2015.

This is the sec­ond time that the In­dian gov­ern­ment’s sub re­gional road con­nec­tiv­ity plan has hit a stum­bling block. Earlier Pak­istan scup­pered the SAARC mo­tor ve­hi­cle agree­ment by re­fus­ing to come on board.

Cur­rently, In­dia only has a bi­lat­eral mo­tor ve­hi­cle agree­ment with Nepal and Bangladesh but a mul­ti­lat­eral pact would go a long way in boost­ing trade in the re­gion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.