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India will develop national highway linking Bangladesh

Agartala, June 8 (IANS) After deciding to construct a bridge over the Feni river in south Tripura to get access to the Chittagong port in Bangladesh, India has decided to convert the connecting two-lane national highway into four-lane one, officials said Tuesday.

‘The National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) would convert the Agartala-Sabroom portion (133 km) of the Assam-Agartala national highway (NH 44) from the existing double lane to four-lane at a cost of Rs 2,000 crore by 2013,’ Tripura public works department (PWD) chief engineer Sunil Bhowmik told reporters here.

Bhowmik said Scot Wilson India Ltd, a NHAI approved consultancy agency, had been asked to prepare a detailed project report (DPR) for the conversion project.

The 133-km long highway from Tripura capital Agartala to the border town of Sabroom would be reduced to 127 km as the existing alignment of the highway would be changed in 119 locations. It would avoid passage through Agartala city and the Sipahijala wild life sanctuary and national park in western Tripura.

A high-level NHAI team, led by its Chief General Manager S.S. Nahar, visited the northeastern state Sunday and held a meeting with the state government officials and planned the strategies to start the works.

The 630-km long NH 44, considered the life line of Tripura, Mizoram, southern Assam and eastern Manipur, also connects Meghalaya capital Shillong with Sabroom. Of the 630 km length, 184 km is in Meghalaya, 111 km is in southern Assam and 335 km is in Tripura.

Works is now in progress to convert the NH 44 from southern Assam to Agartala into four lanes.

India has decided to construct a bridge over the Feni river to get access to the Chittagong port for carrying goods and heavy machineries for the land-locked northeastern region.

The Bangladesh government has earlier this year agreed to allow India to use the Chittagong port, about 75 km from Sabroom.

Tripura Commerce and Industry Minister Jitendra Choudhury said

the centre would provide required funds from the assistance to states for developing export infrastructure and allied activities (ASIDE) scheme to construct the bridge.

‘The proposed bridge would connect Sabroom town with Ramgarh town of southeastern Bangladesh. Besides construction of the bridge, various other tourism-related amenities and infrastructure would also be constructed in and around the area,’ he added.

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