India-Bangladesh Pipeline Agreement: The India-Bangladesh relationship has proved to be topsy-turvy to analyze for even the shrewdest of geopolitical analysts. Sometimes Pakistan and other times China add to the complications. But, one can rest assured that by and large, both countries have maintained a stable friendship, with their fair share of differences of course. The new pipeline is another piece of evidence.
India-Bangladesh Pipeline Agreement
PM Modi and his Bangladeshi counterpart, Sheikh Hasina, will jointly inaugurate a new oil pipeline between both countries on March 18. Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen said that it will be done through video conferencing. “The good news is India will send us diesel. The pipeline has been completed,” added Momen.
The pipeline is a step in the right direction in Bangladesh’s effort to minimize costs and other business risks associated with importing fuel from other countries. In 2017, India and Bangladesh signed a long-term India-Bangladesh Pipeline Agreement regarding this pipeline. It took three years to launch the project. The project was supposed to be completed in 2022 but got delayed due to various complications.
The 130-kilometer-long pipeline stretches from Siliguri in West Bengal to Parbatipur in Dinajpur in northern Bangladesh. 125 km of the pipeline lies in Bangladeshi territory, while only 5 km lies in Indian territory. The bilateral project, which cost Rs 377.08 crore, was funded by a grant in aid of Rs 285.24 crore from India and Rs 91.84 crore from NRL. It has a capacity of 1 million metric tons of diesel per year. It will minimize the cost of the 42nd largest importer of refined petroleum. Singapore, China, India, Malaysia, and Thailand are its main sources.
China won’t like India-Bangladesh Pipeline Agreement
The inauguration comes at a time when Bangladesh is trying to keep China at bay. The country is part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. According to Standard Chartered Bank, China has pledged more than $38 billion in BRI in Bangladesh. Contracts worth $21.5 billion have been signed. Roads, railways, metro rails, bridges, power plants, smart cities, and various other infrastructures are being built in Bangladesh. Taking advantage of it, China has made Bangladesh a dumping group for its products. China’s trade surplus with Bangladesh is over $24 billion.
In the last few months, Bangladesh has been looking towards India with the intent of replacing its dependence on China. Recently, both countries signed a defence pact too, reducing Bangladesh’s dependence on China’s arms. A week later, China’s new foreign minister, Qin Yang, was treated with disdain in Bangladesh.
The new India-Bangladesh Pipeline Agreement adds another dimension to this tumultuous relationship between Bangladesh and China. However, India should not become too complacent. We have seen how Sri Lanka dwindled on the China issue.
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