A section of the Indian media recently reported that Bangladesh has agreed in principle to allow the use of its territory for a direct bus service between Kolkata and Agartala. The agreement was reportedly reached in a close door meeting between officials of the two countries in Kolkata. It has been reported that the service would start after the approval of the cabinet in either countries and subsequent diplomatic level discussions.
Since 1999, we have direct bus services between the two neighbouring countries. It is obviously true that the Dhaka-Kolkata bus service has improved the people-to-people contact between the two neighbouring countries.
But the Dhaka-Agartola bus service, launched particularly to facilitate the business people, was however not successful.
The request for the proposed direct bus service between Kolkata and Agartola has been made by India since its citizens in its relatively landlocked northeastern states face difficulties in moving to rest of India. So after launching the direct bus service between Agartala and Kolkata across Bangladesh, the Indian people will be greatly benefited.
As it is reported that the diplomatic-level discussions on the issue would start after the approval of the cabinet, we suggest that the government raise the issues of our country's possible losses because of wear and tear of the pertinent roads and other matters in the negotiations.
We are virtually plagued by the smuggling of phensidyl and other drugs from across the border. This kind of bus service may aggravate the problem if strong border security is not maintained.
The government may also give importance to genuine economic benefits from this direct bus service and may negotiate other unsettled matters of our country with India.