Modi to visit Bangladesh

 modi11Armed with the goodwill generated by ratification of the land swap agreement and with promising noises on a likely deal on Teesta river water sharing, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will pay a two-day state visit to Bangladesh on June 6 and 7.

Modi’s visit, his first to Bangladesh after taking over a year ago, is at the invitation of his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina.

The visit “reflects the importance attached by India to the bilateral relationship. The visit is expected to further expand the cordial and cooperative relationship between the two countries and strengthen the ties of friendship and trust between India and Bangladesh,” according to statement from the external affairs ministry on Tuesday.

During the visit, Modi will hold discussions with Hasina. His programme also includes a call on President Abdul Hamid, the statement said.

Addressing newspersons in Kolkata, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said the Teesta water sharing accord would be finalised soon.

He voiced confidence in getting the support of West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, who had blocked the water sharing deal four years ago.

“The Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh has already been decided and the Teesta deal will also be finalised soon. We are confident of getting full cooperation from Mamata Banerjee government,” he said.

The Bengal chief minister, during her visit to Bangladesh in February, had assured Sheikh Hasina of a breakthrough on the issue.

The Teesta water sharing agreement was put on hold after Banerjee’s strong opposition over fears that the treaty could spell disaster for northern West Bengal.

The Indian parliament earlier this month passed a key constitutional amendment bill to give effect to the swapping of border land enclaves between India and Bangladesh under a 1974 agreement.

The historic Land Boundary Agreement with Bangladesh deals with the transfer of 111 enclaves with a total area of 17,160.63 acres to Bangladesh, while Dhaka is to transfer 51 enclaves with an area of 7,110.02 acres to India. A 6.1-km undefined border stretch will be demarcated with the bill being passed by parliament.

Modi’s visit is likely to see major progress in connectivity projects between both sides, including a bus service between Guwahati and Dhaka via Shillong.

India and Bangladesh have two regular bus services, one between Kolkata and Dhaka and the other between Agartala and Dhaka.