Indian Railways Will Start Direct Trains To Nepal, Bhutan: How Will It Work Out?
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla has said that India and Nepal will soon be connected via two railway links.
Six rail networks will be initiated for connectivity with Bangladesh.
The railway links between the countries will serve to rapidly shrink South Asia’s geography, Shringla said.
He also said that for India its neighbours come first and foremost amongst all its foreign policy priorities.
Its ties with its neighbours come from a shared history and culture.
The neighbours also have a direct impact on Indian states bordering these countries, consequently India’s prosperity and growth are linked to that of its neighbours.
As a result, policy initiatives taken by India and its neighbours have implications for each other.
Benefits Of Interconnectivity
Connectivity by road, water, rail and air and often by multimodal transport has steadily improved.
This improved connectivity means greater people-to-people contact and greater goodwill.
Currently several rail links between India and Bangladesh are operational.
Things are further made easier by not requiring a visa to travel to three of India’s neighbours: Nepal, Bhutan, and the Maldives.
Diplomatic missions in Sri Lanka and Yangon have also observed a rising number of visas being issued.
Apart from interconnectivity, another area of focus has been the energy sector.
Electricity And Energy
The Indian grid is already connected to Nepal, Bhutan, and Bangladesh through high-capacity connections, making trans-national movement of electricity a reality.
India supplies around 1160 MW of power to Bangladesh, about 700 MW to Nepal, and imports 1.8 GW from Bhutan.
India has also been able to generate 2100 MW of hydropower capacity in Bhutan and is constructing the 1320 MW Maitree Super Thermal Power Project in Bangladesh.
India and Nepal are currently working on railway service between India’s Jayanagar and Nepal’s Kurtha and test runs have already been conducted.
Indian Railways’ Konkan Railway Corporation Limited is also helping Nepal Railways establish the service that will help people from both sides of the border.
Coming to Bangladesh ties, five pre-1965 railway links have been revived.
These include Petrapole (India) – Benapole (Bangladesh), Gede (India) – Darshana (Bangladesh), Singhabad (India) Rohanpur (Bangladesh), Radhikapur (India) – Birol (Bangladesh) with Haldibari-Chilahati forming the 5th such link.