Agartala: Tripura has urged the prime minister to pursue Bangladesh so that it allows access to its water and land routes that could be used to transport material to the northeartern states, Chief Minister Manik Sarkar said.
After meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi here Monday night, Sarkar told reporters that access to Chittagong international port and Ashuganj river port in Bangladesh is crucial for ferrying men and material from the other parts of India and abroad to the northeastern states.
"A multi-modal transportation system using Bangladeshi ports is crucial for the northeastern states as the region is mountainous and having rough terrain," he said.
"If necessary, after talking with the Bangladesh government, India can invest in developing the infrastructure of the two ports," he said.
"India must pursue the Bangladesh government for regular use of Chittagong and Ashuganj ports to carry food grains, essentials, heavy machineries and other goods for northeastern states."
Chittagong sea port is around 70 km from Tripura and Ashuganj port over the Meghna river in eastern Bangladesh is around 40 km from Tripura.
Sarkar said besides the ports, India's access to land and air routes and connectivity between India and Bangladesh are vital for the region's development.
After visiting Assam, Nagaland and Manipur, Modi was in the Left-ruled state Monday. He inaugurated the second unit (363 MW) of the 726 MW capacity power plant in southern Tripura's palatana, 60 km south of here.
The gas-based power project was commissioned by the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) at a cost of Rs.10,000 crore.
Sarkar said that to improve the telecommunications network of the northeastern region, an alternate telecom routing through Bangladesh is vital and urged Modi to pursue the matter with Dhaka.
"Following our demand, the FCI (Food Corporation of India) has taken steps to ferry another 35,000 tonnes of rice for Tripura via Bangladesh as train services in the northeastern states have been stopped till March 2016 due to gauge conversion," Sarkar added.
The FCI recently ferried 10,000 tonnes of rice for Tripura in two phases from Visakhapatnam port in Andhra Pradesh via Bangladesh.
The transportation via Bangladesh is much easier as road connectivity is a big factor for the mountainous northeastern states which share boundaries with Bangladesh, Myanmar, Nepal, Bhutan and China.
There is only a narrow land corridor to the northeastern region from India through Assam and West Bengal but this route passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends, making plying of vehicles, especially loaded trucks, very difficult.
For instance, Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata by road and 2,637 km from New Delhi, while the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just about 350 km.
The Tripura government has also urged the prime minister to set up a Central Agricultural University, and an institute each of the Indian Institute of Management and the Indian Institute of Technology to make the northeastern state an educational hub.
Sarkar said: "We have asked the prime minister to step up the works for setting up the proposed fertiliser plant in Tripura by ONGC. A petro-chemical complex using the natural gas, found abundantly in Tripura, must be set up in Tripura. Both projects would also resolve the unemployment problems of northeast India."
The ONGC in association with Rajasthan-based private-sector fertiliser company Chambal Fertilisers and Chemicals Limited (CFCL) and the Tripura government would set up the Rs 5,000 crore plant in northern Tripura.