July 19, 2024, 2:04 am

Gautam Lahiri, New Delhi

2023-06-07 02:49:28 BdST

India- EU collaboration to develop connectivity with Bangladesh

India and European Union joined hands to undertake projects to establish connectivity among India's North Eastern states with neighbouring Bangladesh, Nepal and Bhutan.

In the first week of this month the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), the EU delegation to India, and the Asian Confluence, a think tank of India, jointly organised the India –EU Connectivity Conference in Meghalaya. In the conference, representative from Bangladesh was present.

According to the press release issued by MEA, the objective of the conference was to explore connectivity investments and identify concrete projects in India’s North Eastern States and with India’s neighbours (Nepal, Bhutan and Bangladesh), for implementation under the India – EU Connectivity Partnership, which was launched during the India – EU leaders meet in May 2021.

The conference was inaugurated by Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Kongkal Sangma and Minister of State for External Affairs Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh.

In his address, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh stressed the importance to connectivity initiatives, both within the country, and as part of India’s Development Partnership abroad. He further highlighted the tremendous opportunities for India – EU Triangular Development Cooperation in South Asia and the Indo – Pacific.

Meanwhile, the CM of Meghalaya focused on interstate and cross-border connectivity for the northeast region as a whole, and for Meghalaya in particular. In that regard, CM referred to India’s ‘Act East’ Policy, within which Meghalaya has an ‘Act South’ Policy to improve connectivity between Meghalaya and Bangladesh. He suggested a ‘Zonal Approach’ to connectivity, involving neighbouring states that caters to the needs of each state.

The second day of the conference saw technical sessions on the themes; Digital Connectivity, Energy Connectivity, Transport Connectivity and Connectivity and Beyond focusing on projects linking the Northeast with India’s neighbourhood, as part of the ‘Act East’ and ‘Neighbourhood First’ policies.

Deliberations in the panel on ‘Connectivity & Beyond’ stressed hurdles and bottlenecks faced by these projects, and on ways to ameliorate their impacts. The panel on ‘Digital Connectivity’ spoke on the need for improving the network penetration in the region by deploying infrastructure, and simultaneously building capacity of the various stakeholders to ensure meaningful connectivity. Developing localised off –grid solutions through community participation was stressed as the way forward to promote ‘Energy Connectivity’ in the region. Experts deliberating on ‘Transport Connectivity’ appreciated the several ongoing transformative infrastructure developments in road, rail and waterway connections in the region, but suggested there was need for more. Deliberations also discussed identifying the right projects to source external funding.

Mentionable, the first-ever India-EU Trade and Technology Council Ministerial meeting held in Brussels on May 16, 2023 had prioritised Connectivity Partnership  as one of the important focus areas of cooperation between India and the EU.

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