The Indian government is learnt to have made a verbal request to Bangladesh to part with a piece of land in Brahmanbaria district for the ongoing expansion of Agartala's MBB international airport. The request was made on the sidelines of a meeting in New Delhi between the foreign ministries of the two countries in the last week of March, a senior official said here on Sunday, adding that the Bangladesh government has now sought a detailed proposal from India on this aspect.
According to the official, Bangladesh is seeking details on where and how much land is required and the maner in which India wants to use the land.
"Once India sends the technical proposal, officials of Bangladesh civil aviation ministry will sit with their foreign ministry counterparts to find out whether there is any provision in Bangladesh laws to allow usage of its land by another country," local officials said referring to informal discussion on the issue with Bangladesh officials.
At the New Delhi meeting, also attended by the civil aviation and commerce ministries of India and Bangladesh, it was argued that expanding the MBB airport would not only help in movement of flights, but also boost trade and commerce with Bangladesh.
Officials here said the present expansion of the airport would not allow bigger passenger and cargo planes to either land or take off from Agartala. But if India gets land up to Zero Line beyond the border fencing, it would benefit both India and Bangladesh, the officials added.
It must be mentioned that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) has undertaken a Rs 438 crore project to upgrade the Agartala airport - renamed the Maharaja Bir Bikram Airport - to international standards by providing world-class facilities. Tripura transport and tourism minister Pranajit Singha Roy said once the project is complete, flights between Agartala and Dhaka as well as other Bangladeshi cities like Chittagong and Sylhet could be operationlised.
The state government has already provided 72 acres of land to the AAI for construction of the new terminal building, runway and other necessary infrastructure for the airport's expansion. Located 20 km north of the state capital, the Agartala airport is said to have handled nine lakh passengers last year.
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