India, Bangladesh Boost Rail and Road Connectivity As Sheikh Hasina Visits

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The new bus service will ply between Kolkata and Bangladesh capital Dhaka, via Khulna.

Kolkata:  Despite lack of development in the crucial water-sharing Teesta agreement between India and Bangladesh, there's one area in which both the nations made considerable progress - rail and road connectivity.

Flagging off a rail link and bus service between India and Bangladesh, through video conferencing on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, "Today, with the West Bengal Chief Minister here, we have added new train and bus links between Kolkata and Khulna."

"Connectivity is crucial for development," Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said.

The new bus service, which was flagged off from the West Bengal secretariat in Howrah, will ply between Kolkata and Bangladesh capital Dhaka, via Khulna. The bus was decorated with blue and white balloons in colours, as selected by state Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

The old rail route between Kolkata and Khulna, which was shut in 1965 when tension escalated with former East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), was also reopened. 

The train - Maitree Express - arrived in India from Bangladesh with officials and was welcomed by locals at the new Petrapole Railway Station. Passengers will be able to use its services from July. 
Md Abdul Rauf, a Bangladesh Railway Official said, "The train will service passengers of both countries. People from Bangladesh, who travel for education, treatment and pilgrimage will benefit the most."

Abul Hashem, a truck Driver from Bangladesh said, "Connectivity will improve between the two countries and there will be development. Relations will improve and we will live like brothers."
North Bengal Traders, however, say they were expecting something more than the existing Siliguri-Dhaka Bus service. Connecting routes should have been announced for the new Phulbari border, which is ready for passenger traffic, said some traders. 

Bapon Das, a boulder supplier for construction projects in Bangladesh said, "We want a train and bus service through this route also as we have a lot of students from Bangladesh coming here to study."

Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who is on a four-day visit to India, arrived in Delhi on Friday, received a grand welcome from Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Rashtrapati Bhavan. 

(With Agency inputs)

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