India and Bangladesh on Saturday inaugurated a cross-border pipeline that will have the capacity to supply one million metric tonnes of diesel a year from Assam’s Numaligarh refinery to the northern parts of the neighbouring country.
The India-Bangladesh Friendship Pipeline (IBFP), inaugurated during a virtual ceremony by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his counterpart Sheikh Hasina, will cut the time and cost of supplying fuel from India and bolster energy connectivity between the two countries.
Numaligarh refinery has been supplying petroleum products to Bangladesh since 2015. Bangladesh currently imports 60,000 to 80,000 metric tonnes of diesel from India by rail. This is the second cross-border energy pipeline between India and its neighbours.
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Describing the pipeline as a new chapter in bilateral relations, Modi said bilateral petroleum trade has crossed the $1-billion mark. “Reliable and cost-effective diesel supply will be especially beneficial for the agriculture sector. Local industries will also benefit,” he said, speaking in Hindi.
Hasina, who spoke in Bengali, said the pipeline is crucial for energy security in Bangladesh. “At a time when many countries are facing an energy crisis because of the Russia-Ukraine war, this pipeline will play a significant role in ensuring energy security for our people,” she said.
“A good market has been created for Assam in Bangladesh…Assam’s residents will benefit,” she added.
Bangladesh is the biggest beneficiary of India’s development assistance and the “Neighbourhood First” policy. The 132-km pipeline running from Siliguri in India to Parbatipur in Bangladesh was built at a cost of ₹377 crore. The groundbreaking was done in September 2018, and the 127-km stretch within Bangladesh was built with an Indian grant.
Modi also noted the importance of the pipeline at a time when many developing economies are struggling to ensure food and energy security and said: “I am sure this pipeline will accelerate the development of Bangladesh and also be an excellent example of increasing connectivity between the two countries.”
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Hasina pointed to the work done by the two sides over the years to forge stronger links, including the Ganga waters sharing treaty, the revival of rail and road links snapped during the 1965 war between India and Pakistan, the settling of land and maritime borders, and greater energy connectivity.
Bangladesh currently imports 1,160 MW of electricity from India and the first unit of the Rampal power plant, developed by the two countries, has become operational, she said. She reiterated her offer for India to make use of Mongla and Chattogram ports and Sylhet and Chattogram international airports and urged Indian businesses to invest in 100 economic zones being created in Bangladesh.