“We must welcome investment from Bangladesh,” Sarkar told in an interview, just days after Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina expressed her government’s readiness to set up joint ventures in India’s northeast during a visit to the state last week.
“India and Bangladesh are natural partners. Both nations are interlinked and co-dependent. The two neighbours must share their resources and advantages.”
Hasina expressed her government’s readiness to set up power plants in India’s northeast and boost trade with India, Nepal and Bhutan.
She said Bangladesh would allow India to use Chittagong and Mongla sea ports as it wanted to improve all types of communication facilities with the adjoining countries to further improve the trade and commerce and people-to-people relations.
Ties between the two countries have shown steady improvement as political and economic engagements between New Delhi and Dhaka have gathered pace. Recent reports said imports, especially textiles and raw jute, from Bangladesh had gone up 85 percent to nearly $300 million during April-September last year.
Hasina said there was a huge potential of Indian investment in Bangladesh in IT, power and healthcare. “Political will is there to carry forward the bilateral ties and the business community of both sides must strive to catch the opportunities,” she said during the visit.
Sarkar said India and Bangladesh should share their wealth and resources for the benefit of the people.
“I already told Hasina that the Tripura government is ready to give 100 MW (from its share) from the upcoming 726-MW Palatana power project, being commissioned by the ONGC (Oil and Natural Gas Corporation) in southern Tripura.”
The 63-year-old Communist leader also asked the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to be more generous towards Bangladesh and its issues.
“Mountainous northeastern region needs transit route via Bangladesh for ferrying men, material and heavy machinery. The region has abundant natural resources like oil, gas and coal… these have to be exploited in the interest of the region and Bangladesh,” Sarkar told IANS.
The northeastern states are surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China on three sides and the only land route access to these states from within India is through West Bengal-Assam. But this surface route passes through hilly terrain with steep roads and multiple hairpin bends that make transporting goods very difficult.
“It would be better if there is no border fencing, erected by India along the 4,095-km border with Bangladesh. In view of terrorism and due to other compulsions, India has to put up the fencing to check trans-border movement of militants, prevent infiltration and check border crimes,” Sarkar added.
Sarkar also urged the Indian government to simplify the visa procedures for Bangladesh citizens to visit India for medical treatment, education, business and travel.
“New Delhi and Dhaka must speed up implementation of those agreements already settled and resolve those pending issues with utmost priority,” he said, adding that the situation is changing and people’s aspirations are also shifting in view of globalisation.
Regarding sheltering of northeast India’s militants in Bangladesh, he said, “Once Dhaka was not accepting India’s claim. Now they (Bangladesh government) have realised and are taking action against the extremists taking refuge in that country.
“However, the issue is not yet a closed chapter.”