Joint Press Statement on the First Meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission
between India and Bangladesh
|The first meeting of the India-Bangladesh Joint Consultative Commission (JCC), as envisaged in the Framework Agreement on Cooperation for Development signed during the visit of the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh, was held in New Delhi on 7 May, 2012. The Indian delegation was led by Shri S. M. Krishna, External Affairs Minister. The Bangladesh delegation was led by Dr. Dipu Moni, Minister for Foreign Affairs.
2. The Ministers reviewed the progress in the bilateral relations between the two countries since the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to India in January 2010 and the visit by the Prime Minister of India to Bangladesh in September 2011. They agreed that greater bilateral cooperation between their countries will promote inclusive growth and development, and contribute to peace, prosperity and stability in their countries and the region.
POLITICAL AND SECURITY COOPERATION
3. The Ministers expressed deep satisfaction at the current state of India-Bangladesh relations which were marked by warmth, cordiality and mutual respect. They noted that India and Bangladesh had entered a new phase in their bilateral relations and had achieved commendable progress in their efforts to further strengthen their friendly ties. There were high expectations for their further growth and development. Both sides welcomed regular high level exchanges, which had helped promote deeper understanding and friendship and the broadening of the areas of cooperation between the two countries. In this context, they welcomed the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to Tripura on 11-12 January, 2012.
4. Recalling the visit of the Prime Minister of Bangladesh to Tin Bigha on 19 October, 2012, the two sides expressed satisfaction at the facilitation of the 24- hour access for Bangladesh nationals.
5. The two Ministers welcomed the recent meetings of the Home Ministers, Home Secretaries and Directors General of the BSF and BGB. They welcomed the commencement of implementation of the Coordinated Border Management Plan (CBMP) to control cross-border illegal activities, and crimes as well as for maintenance of peace and harmony along the border. They expressed confidence that it would enhance cooperation between the border guarding forces of the two countries, and enable them to manage the identified vulnerable areas with a view to preventing criminal activities, illegal movement, acts of violence and loss of lives along the border areas. They also noted that the fencing work in 185 vulnerable patches along the international border was progressing satisfactorily.
6. The Ministers noted that the signing of the Protocol to the Land Boundary Agreement had paved the way for settlement of all remaining land boundary issues. They agreed on the need for early implementation of the Protocol, including the early signing of the strip maps pertaining to Adverse Possessions and recently demarcated segments.
7 The Ministers noted that the legal framework for bilateral security cooperation would be completed with the signing of the Extradition Treaty. They agreed that both sides would expedite efforts to conclude the Treaty at the earliest. They also reiterated their commitment that the territory of either side would not be allowed for activities inimical to the other and resolved not to allow their respective territory to be used for training, sanctuary and other operations by domestic or foreign terrorist/militant and insurgent organizations and their operatives. They also rejected extremism, violence and terrorism and agreed to cooperate proactively in combating these evils.
8. To further strengthen bilateral cooperation, they agreed to intensify consultations by holding annual meetings at the level of the Foreign/External Affairs Ministers (Joint Consultative Commission) and Foreign Secretaries (Foreign Office Consultations). It was also agreed that biannual consultations at the level of Director General/Joint Secretary would be institutionalized between the two Foreign Ministries.
TRADE AND CONNECTIVITY
9. The Ministers noted that increase in trade and investment between the two countries was mutually beneficial, and pledged to continue their efforts to promote balanced and broad-based trade, including border trade. Both sides agreed that the decision by India in 2011 to grant zero duty access to all goods (except 25 items on the Negative List) had opened new opportunities for expansion of Bangladesh exports to India. They welcomed the outcome of the recent meeting of the Commerce Secretaries and the renewal of the Trade Agreement by three years. They agreed that both sides should similarly extend the validity of the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade.
10. Both sides called for more vigorous efforts to upgrade border infrastructure, including Land Customs Stations and Integrated Check Posts, and removal of non-tariff barriers on both sides. The Ministers welcomed the inauguration of a second border haat on the Bangladesh - Meghalaya border and the establishment of four border haats on the Bangladesh - Tripura border. They noted that both sides had succeeded in arriving at an understanding on the Mutual Cooperation Agreement between Bureau of Indian Standards and the Bangladesh Standards Institute and stressed that it should be concluded at an early date.
11. The Ministers noted with satisfaction the inauguration in the presence of the Finance Ministers of the two countries of a Car Pass System at Petrapole-Benapole in January 2012, for movement of cargo vehicles to the Land Custom Station of each other's countries. The Ministers welcomed the agreement to commence a bus service on the Dhaka-Shillong-Guwahati sector. It was agreed to expeditiously conclude the Motor Vehicles Agreement for regulation of passenger and cargo traffic.
12. Both sides reiterated their commitment to the early finalization of the MoU for construction of the Akhaura-Agartala railway link, to be built with grant-in-aid assistance from India. They directed that infrastructure development works and land acquisition activities be taken up urgently.
13. The two sides agreed that necessary formalities for use of Chittagong and Mongla seaports for movement of goods to and from India through water, rail and road would be completed urgently.
14. The Ministers reviewed the status of implementation of projects under the $1 billion Indian Line of Credit. They noted that projects amounting to US $ 810.46.million had been agreed upon and were under implementation. They directed the concerned Ministries to expedite procedures and finalise the preparation of Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) for new projects so that the benefits could reach the people. Bangladesh welcome the announcement made by India during the visit of Finance Minister to Bangladesh on May 5-6, 2012, to convert an amount of USD 200 million from credit to grants-in-aid for projects of priority to Bangladesh.
15. The two sides agreed to expedite the implementation of development projects including construction of a Cultural Centre, undertaking feasibility study for upgradation of Dhaka - Chittagong railway line, setting up of IT labs in 64 model schools and IT centres at Military Institute for Science & Technology, Bangladesh Public Administration Training Centre and Bangladesh Police Academy and provision of solar lamps to 2800 families affected by the Sidr Cyclone.
16. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that preparatory activities for the construction of a bridge across Feni River were underway and directed its implementation as early as possible.
17. The Ministers agreed to develop the inland container terminal at Ashuganj with Indian assistance and to commence transhipments at Ashuganj port.
BILATERAL COOPERATION IN WATER RESOURCES AND POWER
18. Both sides welcomed the recent exchange of data on the flow of the Teesta River at the technical level. They reiterated their commitment to the early finalization of agreements for water-sharing of Teesta and Feni rivers. The Indian side reiterated its commitment that it would not take any unilateral decision on the Himalayan component of the proposed River Interlinking Project which may affect Bangladesh. Both sides agreed to constitute a sub-group under the Joint River Commission (JRC) that would go into all aspects of the Tipaimukh Hydroelectric Project.
19. The Ministers welcomed the Power Purchase Agreement signed between BPDB and NVVN for purchase of 250MW power from India by Bangladesh as well as the decision of the Government of Bangladesh to shortly invite tenders for the purchase of an additional 250MW power from India. Both sides agreed to complete the pending administrative formalities for commissioning the inter-grid connectivity by July 2013. They also welcomed the establishment of a Joint Venture between NTPC and BPDB to set up a 1320MW thermal power plant in Bagerhat and directed them to complete its installation expeditiously. They also directed the Joint Venture to speed up the conclusion of a feasibility report for a similar power plant in Chittagong. Both sides welcomed the constitution of a Technical Team to conduct feasibility study for transmission of power from India to the Eastern part of Bangladesh and options for interconnection for evacuation of power.
20. India welcomed the participation of Bangladesh in power projects in India, particularly in the North-Eastern states of India.
21. Both sides called for an early implementation of the MoU for Cooperation in Renewable Energy and the MoU on the Conservation of the Sunderbans along with the signing of a Protocol on Conservation of Royal Bengal Tigers of the Sunderban.
22. The two Ministers welcomed the formation of technical-level teams for sub-regional cooperation in Water & Power and Connectivity & Transit by both the countries and looked forward to the convening of the meetings at an early date.
23. Both sides expressed great satisfaction at the successful hosting of the year-long festivities of the 150th Birth Anniversary of Rabindranath Tagore in each other's countries. Both sides looked forward to jointly marking the 90th anniversary of the publication of Bidrohi by Poet Kazi Nazrul Islam.
24. The two Ministers agreed to expand steps to increase people to people exchanges between the two countries and directed that the Revised Travel Arrangements be finalized at an early date.
25. The Ministers noted with satisfaction that the Joint Empowered Group on Maitree Express would meet on 9 May, 2012 to improve passenger comfort and reduce travel time.
26. Both sides agreed to hold the next meeting of the Joint Consultative Commission in Dhaka at a mutually convenient date to be decided through diplomatic channels.
May 7, 2012