BCIM TO FINALISE SILK ROUTE PLAN IN KOLKATA
Saleem Samad with Farhad Iqbal from Cox’s Bazar
The two-day meet of the Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar Economic Cooperation (BCIM-EC) concluded on Thursday at the beach town, Cox’s Bazar, with an expectation that the final work plan would be adopted in Kolkata in India early next year.
The officials of four countries in the second round of discussions on “BCIM corridor”, a modern day silk-route between Bangladesh, India, China and Myanmar at Hotel Ocean Paradise, have discussed the scope and modalities of cooperation in sectors of goods and services, investment, energy, multimodal connectivity and sustainable development, a Foreign Office official said on Thursday. BCIM-EC “Joint Study Group” meeting was attended by 15 officials from China, seven from India, five from Myanmar and 17 officials from host, Bangladesh.
Officials in the working session opined that the ancient silk-corridors from Kunming to Kolkata have immense trade potentiality and envisaged US$132 billion in trade, according to a study by Research and Information System for Developing Countries in India. The roads, railways, airlines, water routes, telecom networks and energy pipelines along the Kolkata-Kunming route is expected to form a “thriving” economic belt.
Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque told journalists that the project would need $22 billion investment.
He also told the media representatives that in February 2012, officials of the continental bloc approved an initial plan to develop a 2,800 km highway leading from Kunming to Kolkata through Myanmar and Bangladesh.
At the Chinese city of Kunming on December 18, 2013, the four nations agreed that the silk-corridor should run from Kunming to Kolkata, linking Mandalay in Myanmar as well as Cox’s Bazar, Chittagong and Dhaka in Bangladesh.
However, Bangladeshi experts opined that the 2,800 km Kolkata-Kunming route, connecting Ruili-Bhamo, Lashio, Mandalay, Tamu, Imphal, Sylhet and Dhaka is the best option. Keeping in mind connectivity with the north eastern Indian states with Bangladesh, experts and officials believe that the neighbouring states would be immensely benefitted from the regional connectivity.
Officials said that they would leave the decision to be finalised at Kolkata in the third BCIM-EC “Joint Study Group” meeting in early 2015.
Earlier in 1930, the British Raj envisaged construction of railroad in the ancient silk-route connecting China with India to explore business and trade. After the devastating World War II, the British took a back step and the entire railway project was abandoned.
DECEMBER 19, 2014