India and Bangladesh hope to open new border haats along the international border in Tripura and Mizoram, following the positive experience in Meghalaya, the External Affairs Minister, Mr S.M. Krishna, said on Monday.

Pointing out that India and Bangladesh have made steady progress in the utilisation of $1 billion line of credit extended by India, Mr Krishna said the focus now is to ensure timely delivery of contracts that have been signed by the Bangladesh Government.

The Minister was speaking after the conclusion of the first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission.

"So far, projects worth more than $ 810 million have been agreed upon and five contracts worth $83 million have been signed. The first consignment of buses has arrived in Dhaka and deliveries of railway rolling stock will start by the end of the year,” Mr Krishna said.

Later answering a question on progress made in utilising the Line of Credit, the Bangladesh Foreign Minister, Dr Dipu Moni, said that, "I think now it has reached a stage where it will not take much time. All the ground work that both the sides needed to conclude has been done. So I think it will be done quickly.”

The Indian External Affairs Minister added that the 2011 Indian decision to grant zero duty access to all goods from Bangladesh has opened new opportunities for expansion of bilateral trade. "I understand that there has been a significant increase of textile exports from Bangladesh to India," Mr Krishna said.

Turning his attention to the power sector, the Minister said the work on power inter-grid connectivity is progressing and India is hopeful that 500 MW power would flow from India to Bangladesh during the summer of 2013. "We are also moving ahead with the setting up of 1,320 MW coal-based joint venture power plant which is expected to be commissioned by 2016,” Mr Krishna said.

On the Teesta agreement the External Affairs Minister said: "We look forward to making progress in making the agreement on the water sharing at the earliest.”

(This article was published on May 7, 2012)
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