With Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wrapping up her India visit yesterday, government agencies and private companies of the two countries signed 13 more agreements and memoranda of understanding to further deepen bilateral economic partnership.
The deals involving around $10 billion cover the power, energy, logistics, education and medical sectors.
The documents of the deals were exchanged at a meeting of India-Bangladesh Business Forum at New Delhi's Taj Palace Hotel in presence of Hasina and Dharmendra Pradhan, Indian minister of state for petroleum and natural gas.
The deals include $1.6 billion debt financing by Exim Bank of India for implementation of the 1,320MW Maitree Power Project in Bangladesh's Rampal.
Bangladesh-India Friendship Power Company (BIFPCL) and Exim Bank signed the agreement.
Meanwhile, there has been a growing outcry over the location of the thermal project as Rampal is near the ecologically-sensitive Sundarbans, a world heritage site.
During Hasina's visit, Dhaka and New Delhi on April 8 signed 22 agreements and MoUs in the areas of defence, energy and nuclear power, among others.
The Bangladesh premier returned home last night with high points in furthering the Indo-Bangla ties.
However, the long-pending issue of Teesta water-sharing remains unresolved with West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee insisting that there wasn't enough water in the common river to share with Bangladesh.
In the last leg of her four-day state visit, Hasina yesterday once again reposed faith in her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi's assurance about settling the issue even though Mamata refused to budge from her opposition to the Teesta deal.
Speaking at a reception hosted by a pro-BJP think-tank at Hotel Imperial in New Delhi yesterday morning, Hasina said, “Prime Minister Modi once again reiterated his government's strong resolve to conclude the water-sharing treaty at the soonest. Once it happens, the face of Indo-Bangladesh relations would undergo another transformation.
“We strongly believe our common water resources must act as a uniting force.”
The Bangladesh premier pitched for “a comprehensive, basin-wide solution to water sharing of all the common rivers” saying this “holds the key to our common future.”
Earlier on April 8, appearing before the media with Hasina after their talks at the Hyderabad House, Modi said it was his government and that of Hasina which can and will find a solution to the Teesta issue.
Yesterday's reception was attended by Indian Home Minister Rajnath Singh and BJP veteran Lal Krishna Advani, among others.
The deals include power purchase agreement between India's Reliance Power and Bangladesh's Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources for the first phase (718MW) of the 3,000MW power project at Meghnaghat, involving $1 billion of the proposed investment of $3 billion.
The agreement between India's state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation and Bangladesh's Power Development Board (PDB) for supply of power from Nepal envisaged an investment of $3.15 billion.
A pact between India's Adani Power (Jharkhand) and the PDB with an investment of $2 billion, and a power purchase agreement between Adani Power and Bangladesh's Power Grid Company were also signed.
Besides, the MoUs signed yesterday include a deal between India's Petronet LNG and Bangladesh's Petrobangla on use of Liquified Natural Gas terminal.
Meanwhile, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) unveiled a six-point agenda to boost trade and investment between the two countries.
It includes setting up of a Joint Task Force on tariff and non-tariff barriers, and another Joint Task Force to promote Indian investments in Bangladesh in the areas of infrastructure, education, healthcare, power and tourism.
The agenda touched on connectivity initiatives for expansion of sub-regional cooperation among BBIN (Bhutan-Bangladesh- India-Nepal) countries by establishing links through road, rail, river, sea, transmission lines and petroleum pipelines.
It also includes pursuing joint investments in Blue Economy and a road-map for cooperation in the Bay of Bengal in exploration of hydrocarbons, marine resources, deep sea fishing, preservation of marine ecology and disaster management.
There was also mention of collaboration in knowledge sharing to facilitate innovation and research, and building a partnership on skill development.
HASINA AT BUSINESS FORUM
Speaking at the meeting of India-Bangladesh Business Forum, Hasina said Bangladesh and India have witnessed tremendous progress in almost all sectors of cooperation -- connectivity, power, trade and commerce, health and cultural exchange.
“In Bangladesh, we have envisioned to become a middle income country by 2021 and a developed country by 2041. India is our partner in this path to progress.”
The premier said the two countries have amicably settled land boundary and maritime boundary issues. She reiterated her government's “deep appreciation to leaders of all political parties and members of the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha of India for their unanimous support for the Land Boundary Agreement.
“It was indeed a historic decision,” she noted.
Hasina further said, “With the restoration of trust and confidence, the people-to-people exchanges [between the two countries] have also grown exponentially. All these are the hallmarks of a new paradigm of partnership.”
She also pointed out that cooperation in the power sector has been another high point of the Indo-Bangla relationship.
The Bangladesh PM said her country is importing electricity from India and also collaborating in other sectors of energy such as solar, wind and hydro projects, and offshore exploration.
“We are identifying hydro-power projects in Bhutan and Nepal for joint development and import of power to Bangladesh across Indian territory.”
Dhaka and New Delhi are focusing on expansion of trade in “a more open, beneficial and balanced manner by addressing the issues of trade barriers, harmonisation of standards, development of trade infrastructures and mutual recognition of certification, Hasina said.
“To address the trade deficit, we are also working on getting more investment from India, particularly in the Special Economic Zones in Bangladesh. Already, we are seeing great interest from the biggest business houses in India.”
The Bangladesh premier said connectivity holds the key to the two countries' collective and inclusive development, and “in our endeavour to integrate the two economies and the region, we are enhancing our connectivity in many ways leading ultimately to multi-modal connectivity.
“And we are being innovative enough to develop new modes of connectivity,” she added.
The PM will brief the media at the Gono Bhaban at 4:30pm today on the outcome of her visit.