Tripura has been cleared by the Centre to set up a Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in the border town of Sabroom.
Sabroom is the southernmost town of the State sitting on a highway that will connect it to Bangladesh’s port city of Chittagong.
“Sabroom will have a SEZ and we will turn it into a logistics hub,” said chief minister Biplab Deb, while addressing the inaugural ceremony of Vanguard Festival.
Vanguard is the state’s leading TV channel which is organizing the ‘Padma-Gomati’ festival to promote better people-to-people understanding between Bangladesh and Tripura.
Also read: First agro-based SEZ to come up in Tripura
Five top achievers from Tripura were given lifetime achievement awards for their contribution in fields of media, science promotion, community service, education and economic growth.
Veteran BBC correspondent and Northeast Now columnist Subir Bhaumik was awarded for his contributions to media , while Bandhan Bank founder Chandrasekhar Ghosh was awarded for his contribution to economic growth by promotiing micro-finance.
The Mizo Association in the orange growing Jampui hill town of Vanghmun won the award for community service.
Biplab Deb said Bangladesh held the key to the development and economic growth of India’s northeast – and not just Tripura – because it has agreed to provide the landlocked region the sea outlet to connect to the Indian mainland and the rest of the world.
“With a great friend in the motherly figure of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina who is extremely grateful to India’s and Tripura’s support during the Bangladesh Liberation War, we can look forward to a bright future,” said Deb , setting a pitch markedly different from BJP leaders who have attacked Bangladesh for sending illegal migrants into India.
“All the projects liker withdrawl of Feni river water for providing drinking water to Sabroom town that Tripura wanted has been cleared by Hasina’s government. And that inspite of opposition from within her country,” said Deb.
“I called her before she came to India in October with a list of projects that would be good for Tripura and she told me during dinner at Rastrapati Bhavan that she had cleared each one of them.”
Tripura holds a special place in the hearts of Bangladeshis because of the phenomenal support provided by the state during the 1971 Liberation war when it sheltered more refugees and freedom fighters from Bangladesh than the entire population of the State.
Its first chief minister Sachindralal Singha pushed the case of Bangladesh liberation since his first secret meeting with Hasina’s father, ‘Bangabandhu’ Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in 1962.
“Hasina is like a mother to me, she is so snehomoyi (loving). India must realize she is our best friend in South Asia,” said Deb.
He said Sabroom’s rail link to Agartala and the rest of the Northeast will provide the whole region a viable route to export its products through Chittagong, because the port is only 60 kms from Sabroom when the bridge on the Feni River is completed.
“So the whole of Northeast should value the friendship of Bangladesh,” said Deb.
He justified the creation of a logistics hub in Sabroom, which will change Tripura’s economy, because products imported for the rest of Northeast and going out of the region to Indian mainland or the rest of the world will have to stocked in Sabroom before it is send to Chittagong.
In a recent conclave in Guwahati, Bangladesh commerce minister Tipu Munshi had said, “Biplab Deb’s body is in India but his heart is in Bangladesh.”
Deb was unfazed by the comment which raised some eyebrows in the Assam capital and now seems to be pushing for better relations between the two countries with greater zeal.