Assurance of cooperation in fuel and food sectors

India assures of selling diesel and gas to meet the demands of Bangladesh

Prothom Alo illustration

Bangladesh and India will work intensively in the global context of the onslaught of Covid-19 pandemic and the effects of Russia-Ukraine war as India has assured Bangladesh of exporting diesel and gas to the country to meet its demand.

India has also assured of supplying rice, wheat and other daily essential products as well when required. But for that Bangladesh has to inform India of its demand earlier. Then India will export a set amount of the goods after fulfilling its domestic demand.

The issues were brought up in the meeting of the prime ministers of both the countries at Hyderabad House in New Delhi on Tuesday. Later, the officials of the two countries informed the matters to media separately.

On her second-day of four-day visit to India, prime minister Sheikh Hasina had meeting with her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi. Later, they attend a lunch. The two prime ministers also had one-to-one meeting.

Following the summit, seven MoUs (Memorandum of Understandings) were signed. Later, the two prime ministers attended a joint press conference.

Indian prime minister Narendra Modi said India will keep pace with a stable, developed and progressive Bangladesh to implement the dreams of Bangabandhu. “Today we have put an emphasis on curbing terrorism and fundamentalism. It is important to fight together the forces that hit our mutual trust to keep the spirit of 1971 alive,” he said.

Mentioning that the two countries have achieved significant advancement in some sectors in the last decade, prime minister Sheikh Hasina said, “The two countries have resolved quite a number of longstanding issues in the spirit of mutual friendship and cooperation. We hope other unresolved issues including the Teesta water sharing agreement will be resolved very soon.”

Following the summit, the two prime ministers jointly inaugurated the Unit-1 of the coal-fired 1320-megawatt Maitree Super Critical Thermal Power Project, located in Rampal of Bagerhat. Arindam Bagchi, spokesperson of India’s foreign ministry, tweeted about the inauguration of the much-talked about powerplant, saying “Being constructed under India’s concessional financing scheme, the project will add 1320 MW to Bangladesh’s National Grid.”

Advancement has been made in discussion on two issues. Cooperation in fuel, especially our concerned departments will negotiate about importing diesel from India. India has political goodwill about this
Shahriar Alam, state minister for foreign affairs

Besides, the two prime ministers jointly inaugurated four more projects including Rupsa Bridge.

Following the summit of the two prime ministers, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra talked to media at his office at noon while Bangladesh’s state minister for foreign affairs, Shahriar Alam talked to media at the Bangladesh high commission in evening.

Shahriar Alam said, “Advancement has been made in discussion on two issues. Cooperation in fuel, especially our concerned departments will negotiate about importing diesel from India. India has political goodwill about this.”

“We want to buy fuel from India. This is not diesel only; we have told them about gas too in the primary stage. Several Indian companies have been producing hydroelectricity in Nepal. India is interested to export that to Bangladesh. We don’t have any transmission line now but advancement has been made on this issue also,” he said in response to a question.

The two prime ministers also discussed about ensuring import of daily essentials from India. Shahriar Alam said, “It was discussed to keep a directive so that we could import a certain amount of food products from India during any crisis.”

Speaking to media about export of oil to Bangladesh, Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said discussion between Bangladesh and India has been going on for a few days about export of different goods. Fuel is one of the major products. The Bangladesh government has identified India’s Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) for this. It will take some time to finalise every pros and cons regarding the export and import. The Bangladesh government and IOC will hold discussions on this too.

Vinay Kwatra further said India has supplied 400,000 tonnes of wheat to Bangladesh. In future, it will be decided taking overall situation into consideration.

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has arrived here on a state visit. She was received with highest protocol. India does not dishonour any honourable guest
Vinay Mohan Kwatra, Indian foreign secretary

The Indian foreign secretary also mentioned that India is careful to continue uninterruptedly the supply of goods that tend to decompose soon. That’s why the Indian prime minister put emphasis on constructing a supply chain.

Vinay Kwatra also said prime minister Modi himself said the discussion on CEPA will begin this year. The discussion will be finalised when Bangladesh will finally graduate from the least developed country status.

New proposal for connectivity

Increasing connectivity at different level, fuel supply and IT cooperation got importance in the discussion between the two prime ministers. India has come up with a new proposal about this.

State minister for foreign affairs Shahriar Alam said India has given a new proposal to open a coordinated and multidimensional rail communication system for international trading of goods. Currently goods are being carried through trucks.

The state minister said, “Anti-dumping duty has been imposed on Bangladeshi jute. Though we were said that despite this imposition export of jute from Bangladesh to India has increased, the prime minister strongly raised the issue to withdraw the anti-dumping duty. Indian prime minister has ordered to resolve the matter quickly.”

Adani Group proposes to invest in new project

India’s Adani Group chairman Gautam Adani paid a courtesy call on prime minister Sheikh Hasina on Monday. Later, in a tweet he said, “It is an honour to have met Hon PM of Bangladesh Sheikh Hasina in Delhi. Her vision for Bangladesh is inspirational and stunningly bold. We are committed to commissioning our 1600 MW Godda Power Project and dedicated transmission line to Bangladesh by Bijoy Dibosh, 16 Dec 2022.”

Besides this, Adani Group has given specific proposals for large scale investment in fuel and infrastructural sectors in Bangladesh. Gautam Adani informed the prime minister about the proposals given to different ministries and departments. The prime minister welcomed the proposals.

Regarding Rohingya crisis

The two prime ministers also discussed about Rohingya crisis in this meeting as well.

Indian foreign secretary Vinay Mohan Kwatra said Bangladesh is concerned over the Rohingya question. India has been doing what is there to be done to resolve this crisis. It is helping Bangladesh and will do so in the future. India supports all those efforts which ensure safe, steady and quick repatriation to Myanmar.”

Protocol to PM and criticisms

In response to a question on raging criticisms on prime minister’s visit to India, state minister Shahriar Alam said, “India has given importance to the prime minister’s ongoing tour. This will be visible if anyone goes through Delhi’s streets and Indian media’s coverage on the issue. Of course there is no lack. I don’t want to put my feet in the trap of the people who are criticizing.”

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina’s tour to India has attained a big achievement through signing an MoU on withdrawal of Kushiyara river water under the upper Surma-Kushiara project.

Regarding criticisms in Bangladesh on sending a state minister of India to receive prime minister Sheikh Hasina at the airport, Indian foreign secretary said no remarks should be made on the criticisms of oppositions in Bangladesh. Prime minister Sheikh Hasina has arrived here on a state visit. She was received with highest protocol. India does not dishonour any honourable guest. It is not appropriate to respond to the criticisms of oppositions, he added.

Signing of seven MoUs

Bangladesh and India on Tuesday signed seven MoUs. One of the signed MoUs is withdrawal of 153 cusec water from the Kushiyara river by Bangladesh under upper Surma-Kushiyara project, Sylhet via Rahimpur. Another MoU was signed between Scientific Cooperation between Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) of India and Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).

Other signed MoUs between National Judicial Academy, Bhopal, India and Supreme Court of Bangladesh.

Two MoUs were signed between the Ministry of Railways of India and Bangladesh Railway for training of Bangladesh railway staff at different training Institutes under the Indian Railway and for collaboration for IT solutions at Bangladesh part. MoU between Prasar Bharati and Bangladesh Television was also signed.

Meanwhile, another MoU between two sides was signed for cooperation in the areas of Space Technology.

Second day of the PM’s visit

Prime minister Sheikh Hasina was given the guard of honour at Rashtrapati Bhawan on Tuesday morning. Narendra Modi welcomed her there. From there, Sheikh Hasina went to Raj Ghat to pay homage to Mahatma Gandhi. Later, she held the meeting with Indian prime minister Narendra Modi at Hyderabad House. Later, she went to the Rashtrapati Bhawan to meet president Droupodi Murmu and met vice-president Jagdeep Dhankhar at his office.

Indian National Congress president Rahul Gandhi called on the prime minister at her place of residence, ITC Maurya Hotel in New Delhi.

On the third day of her visit Sheikh Hasina would address a meeting to exchange views with top Indian businesspersons. Later, in the afternoon, she will handover Bangladesh Prime Minister’s scholarship to the family members of Indians who were killed in the liberation war in 1971.

* The report, originally published in the print and online editions of Prothom Alo, has been rewritten in English by Shameem Reza