Vastavam web: India and Bangladesh today discussed the common challenge of terrorism and resolved to fight the scourge together even as New Delhi reaffirmed its status as a reliable development partner of Dhaka.”We are both determined to protect our societies from the threat of ideologies of hate, violence and terror by adopting a zero tolerance policy and a comprehensive approach in fighting violent extremism and terrorism at all levels,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said after talks with the Bangladeshi side as part of the fourth Joint Consultative Commission.
“Totally, three lines of credit amounting to USD 8 billion have been extended by India to Bangladesh so far. This is by far the largest development assistance that India has extended to any country worldwide,” she said.India has also been extending grant assistance for small socio-economic projects in Bangladesh. In the past three years alone, 24 such grant projects have been completed which include construction of students’ hostels, tube-wells, cultural centres, and orphanages among others. Presently 58 projects, including city development projects in Rajshahi, Khulna and Sylhet, are under implementation, she said.The two nations have already agreed on the construction of a petroleum products pipeline that will link Siliguri with Parbatipur, for the benefit of the people of northwestern Bangladesh, as a grant in aid project.
The setting up of LNG terminal, supply of natural gas by pipeline and investments in the upstream sector are also under consideration, she said.She said restoration of pre-1965 links encompassing road, rail, water and coastal shipping links is being planned to increase connectivity, citing increase in frequency of the Dhaka-Maitri express.In order to facilitate people-to-people contacts, she said the Indian Mission and Posts in Bangladesh issued 9.76 lakh visas in 2016 and these are expected to grow to about 14 lakh visas in 2017.
Swaraj said India will also offer five-year multiple entry visas for Bangladeshi freedom fighters and is planning a scheme for their medical treatment in India.This is Swaraj’s second visit to Bangladesh and comes after the recent trip of Finance Minister Arun Jaitley during which India operationalised a USD 4.5 billion line of credit to Bangladesh to enable implementation of development projects in key areas, including power, railways, roads and shipping.The announcement of the line of credit was made during Hasina’s visit to India in April.