Commerce Minister Faruk Khan yesterday said the prime minister will send a team of parliament members and experts to the Tipaimukh dam site in India for a firsthand view of the gigantic project involving a common river.
Talking to reporters on the sidelines of a regional seminar at Sonargaon Hotel in the city, he deplored that those who are talking much on the issue actually talk without knowing the fact.
He said the team will see as to how Bangladesh could derive benefit from the Tipaimukh dam on the Borak River.
“If Tipaimukh dam is not beneficial for Bangladesh, then it will not be put in place. Bangladesh will not give its clearance for the project,” Faruk said.
The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Saarc Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Saarc CCI) jointly organised the seminar titled ‘Regional Connectivity: Potential for Infrastructure Development and Energy in South Asia.’
Saarc Chamber President Tariq Sayeed, FBCCI President Annisul Huq and Vice-President of Saarc CCI Mir Nasir Hossain also addressed the business meet.
Addressing the seminar, the commerce minister said the South Asian region is rich in terms of water and energy resources. But, for a lack of equal distribution, this potential still remained untapped.
He viewed that this is the proper time to utilise the opportunity and potential as all the countries in the region have got democratic governments.
Emphasising regional connectivity, the minister said Bangladesh is very much interested to establish a regional road and railway network.
He also suggested building a trans-border gas network from Iran to Myanmar, connecting Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other countries in the vast region.
Referring to the huge hydro potential, Faruk said there could be thousands of megawatts of power generation from this hydro resource.
The commerce minister offered the country’s Mongla seaport to turn into a regional port to be used by China, Bhutan and Nepal as well.
Mir Nasir Hossain said freedom of movement should be allowed for more people for contacts across the borders and the visa regime in South Asia needs to be more open.
He proposed issuance of five-year multiple visa without police reporting and city restriction for at least 500 businessmen and increase in Saarc visa exemption stickers from 100 to 300 for each country.
FBCCI President urged an increase in the regional trade and infrastructure under Saarc umbrella.
He noted that the Saarc region is yet to achieve the goal of establishing a regional free-trade area like NAFTA or ASEAN.
He observed that still the intra-Saarc trade within the regional countries is only 5 percent while it is in NAFTA 52 percent, in the European Union 52 percent and in ASEAN 24.5 percent.
Source: The Daily Star, 27 May 2009