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02nd-Aug-2019

About expansion of Agartala airport

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INDIA has sought land facility inside Brahmanbaria of Bangladesh for expanding and upgradation of Agartala airport to international standards. Bangladesh Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan on Monday disclosed the matter. After securing transit and transshipment facilities allegedly without meeting any demand of Bangladesh, India has been pressing Bangladesh to meet the latest demand. The matter was also discussed in a meeting at Foreign Ministry held in October last year with other relevant Ministries and intelligence agencies.
Indian aircraft have already been using Bangladesh airspace during take-off and landing at Agartala airport. India first made the proposal at a bilateral meeting on July 2018 when India's the then Home Minister Rajnath Singh, now the Defence Minister, visited Bangladesh. Though India is 22 times bigger than Bangladesh, it has a high scarcity of lands for extending an airport in Agartala. Series of meeting was already held to find out the way in this regard.
Bangladesh Foreign Secretary, however, said that no decision has yet been made. He said that all who attended the meeting in October 2018 received the Indian proposal positively. Everyone thinks that part of our land will be well connected. At the meeting, he also argued that Geneva International Airport falls partly in Switzerland and partly in France. But the concept of the European Union and its integrated values, culture and security are unique than the one of the deadliest border and longest border fence between India-Bangladesh. International Relation experts said Europe and South Asia are not similar in terms of, among others, border management, immigration system or currency policy. Former civil aviation minister Rashed Khan Menon said, "We should expand our airports, not other's. Our people should not go to Kolkata via Agartala. I want to go to Kolkata from here. I want seven sister states of India to use Sylhet airport to reach other states in India".
We are not yet sure whether the project (expansion inside Brahmanbaria) would be economically or strategically viable for Bangladesh. Besides, it's not even clear what Bangladesh would get in return. Hopefully, the government would not take any decision which would hamper the national interest.