economy

BIMSTEC nations eye transport links

BIMSTEC nations eye transport links

NEW DELHI : India and a group of South Asian and Southeast Asian nations are implementing connectivity projects to boost transport linkages between their regions with projects worth $ 55.2 billion at different stages of implementation, a senior Indian official said on Monday. Leaders of the Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) countries had given their approval for “robust connectivity linkages that would give the economy of the region a major boost, Indian foreign secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla told a meeting on Monday. With this, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka from South Asia and Myanmar and Thailand from the South-East Asia were working on finalizing a motor vehicles pact and coastal shipping agreement which will help boost connectivity between the two regions, he said. “The BIMSTEC Master Plan for Transport Connectivity, finalized under India’s chairmanship of the expert group last year, envisages a seamless multimodal transport system across the region with efficient transit facilities to enhance the mobility of goods and people, he said. “This will stimulate intra-regional trade and investment in the region. It identifies 264 projects requiring an investment of $ 126 billion over a ten year horizon from 2018–2028. Projects worth $ 55.2 billion are already at different stages of implementation, he said. “We need to now collectively develop a strategy for financing and implementing the Transport Connectivity Master Plan. I am happy to note that work in this direction has already begun with (Manila based) ADB (Asian Development Bank) conducting the first consultative workshop on financing of the Master Plan last month, Shringla said. BIMSTEC formed in 1997 combines seven South Asian and Southeast Asian nations which is home to an estimated 1.73 billion people and having a combined gross domestic product of $3.8 trillion. The leaders of the grouping have held several summits, the last of which took place in 2018 in Kathmandu. With the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation or SAARC – that brings together countries in the region stuck because of India-Pakistan tensions – New Delhi is looking at boosting BIMSTEC in a bid to energise trade and connectivity projects in South Asia. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited the leaders of BIMSTEC countries to his swearing in ceremony in 2019, a stark contrast to 2014 when he had invited the leaders of SAARC countries. According to Shringla, plans to develop an energy grid and boost electricity trade through the establishment of BIMSTEC Grid Interconnection are underway.  “The power grid interconnection would enhance energy security of the region by improving diversity of sources and means of supply to each participating country, he said.Security and disaster management were two other areas that the grouping was working on. “The Bay of Bengal which occupies 0.6% of the global ocean area, is responsible for about four out of five cyclone-related deaths in the world, Shringla said. “In addition, our countries lie in one of the most active seismic zones in the world and are prone to earthquakes of high magnitude. The rising sea levels as a result of global warming and climate change have endangered the lives of our people in coastal areas, he said.India is hosting the BIMSTEC Centre for Weather and Climate which is now fully functional to provide early disaster warnings,  he said.The covid-19 pandemic had added new meaning to the concept of disaster management, Shringla said adding that “as the lead country for disaster management, India will be organizing a Tri-Services HADR (Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief) exercise towards the end of this year in the backdrop of the pandemic, he added. Download.

economy 2021-10-26 Livemint