August 17, 2022, 8:05 am

Shamiur Rahman

2021-12-06 14:24:47 BdST

Reopening of Mogholhat checkpoint emphasised to facilitate travel

The leaders of business community and civil society have called on the government to take proper steps to reopen the Mogolhat Land Customs Checkpoint of Sadar upazila.

If this happens, people of both Bangladesh and India will have the facility to travel easily between the countries through Lalmonirhat district, they said.

Former president of Lalmonirhat Chamber of Commerce and Industry, SA Hamid Babu said, "We have been requesting the government to reopen the route and rail link for long considering the reality of boosting economic growth and connectivity between the countries."

"Our neighbouring West Bengal businessmen also want the checkpoint to be reopened. We contacted the respective authorities in this regard, but we are yet to see any results. This issue has already been discussed in the Indian parliament but no practical steps been taken so far," he added.

Mogholhat border point was once open as the immigration check point for passport passenger of both the countries. During the British rule, there was direct rail connectivity through Mogholhat to Gidaldha, Dinhata, Assam and Meghalaya of India.

However in 1988, the Bangladesh Railway authorities closed the railway route as it was washed out by a flash flood. The connectivity of rail track and the custom immigration point were closed down in 1995.

However, in recent years businessmen and civil society members of the both countries have started demanding to reopen this checkpoint and land port for easy communication and trade facilities.

Shupendronath Dutta, convenor of Lalmonirhat Unnayan Parishad, said, "We have sent a letter to the concerned departments of the government demanding effective measure in this regard. However, we are yet to receive any response."

Mogholhat border point is only 10 kilometres from Lalmonirhat town while Burimari land port is nearly 95 kilometres. Every year, hundreds of Bangladeshi tourists use Burimari port for travelling to India's Shiliguri, Darjeeling, New Jolpaiguri and other parts. Many people visit Nepal, Bhutan, and India's Bangalore, Chennai,and Kolkata using this route every year for medical checkup and education purposes.

If Mogholhat checkpoint reopens, it will ease Burimari land port's pressure, said one of the locals.

Thousands of Nepalis, Bhutanese and Indian students, studying in different medical colleges of Bangladesh, have recently started using Burimari port. If Mogholhat land port reopens, it will be easy for many passport holders to reach Dinhata, Coochbihar and other destination of India's West Bengal easily. Businessmen can also import and export various goods through this route, and it will be less costly for them, he added.

On July 28, 1996, the National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh authorities issued a letter declaring the Mogholhat port a railway-based customs checkpoint, but due to unknown reasons it could not become operational.

On December 5, 2018, Partha Pratim Roy, a parliament member of Lokshova from Trinomul Congress (TMC), raised the issue in Indian parliament of reopening the railway link and customs check post in Gidaldha of Dinhata under Coochbihar of India and Mogholhat check post in Lalmonirhat district of Bangladesh.

Later, Indian external affairs minister late Shushoma Swaraj replied to the TMC MP that the government was fully committed to reestablishing all forms of transport connectivity with Bangladesh. The proposed route was Gidaldah (India)-Mogholhat (BD)-Kawnia (BD)-Parbutipur (BD)-Ishurdi (BD)-Dharshona (BD)-Gede (India)-Kolkata (India).

Bangladesh Railway's Lalmonirhat Divisional Manager, Shah Sufi Noor Mohammed, said that a proposal had been sent to the respective authorities to resume this route.

When contacted, Deputy Commissioner (DC) of Lalmonirhat Abu Jafar told this correspondent that they had contacted the respective department, and talked with the customs and land port authorities.

"If the port and rail link of Mogholhat resumes, it will contribute a lot to the country's economy and trades, he added.

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