Transit issue | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, February 18, 2009 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, February 18, 2009

Transit issue

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Before deciding on giving transit to India we should analyse the issue very carefully.
We should realise why India needs transit, our advantages as well as disadvantages.
Why India needs transit:
Firstly, India is isolated from the North-East India because of the location of Bangladesh. Bangladesh stands right in the middle of these two parts. To reach these North Eastern states, Indian vehicles have to travel between 1400 and 1650 km. from West Bengal and if Bangladesh allowed them transit the distance would come down to just over 700 km.
Secondly, to fulfil the growing capitalist demand and to develop the trade market, India needs to use the resources of the north-eastern states which are rich in natural resources.
Thirdly, India needs this transit for their strategic security.
Finally, besides the economic and military reasons one of the most important reasons of this transit is the national security and stability of India.
Advantages:
i) If the Indo-Bangladesh transit is established then Bangladesh will get 300/400 crore taka per year from tariff.
ii) By properly utilising Chittagong port Bangladesh may be benefited.
iii) Infrastructure development may occur if Indian investors come here and employment opportunities are created.
Disadvantages:
i) Easy access to these states (seven sisters) through Bangladesh means too much pressure on our weak infrastructure (particularly on roods and culverts).
ii) Transit can cause strategic danger to Bangladesh. If India supplies arms and ammunition to halt the problems of 'Seven Sisters' then the people of those areas may become hostile towards Bangladesh.
iii) There might be a health concern as truck drivers of India will pass through the transit route.
iv) Many environment problems can occur for giving transit to India. The vehicles will cause sound and air-pollution.
v) Illegal arms, drugs and human trafficking may increase.
Lastly, Bangladesh will lose a strong market in the Seven Sisters.
Our Commerce Minister Faruk Khan has said that transit is primarily an economic issue, rather than a political issue but Farhad Mazar dismisses the idea that transit is merely an economic issue.
According to, Prof, Imtiaz Ahmed, instead of being reactive, as in responding only when they start taking, we should be proactive. We should call India for a meeting and ask it for transit to Nepal and Bhutan and even Pakistan. We should ask India to reduce cross-border smuggling.

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