Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb has placed a proposal for having a piece of land stretching one kilometre in Bangladesh’s Brahmanbaria for the expansion of Maharaja Bir Bikram International Airport in Agartala, reported news agency TNN.
The proposal came as there was no space in the Indian side of the border to expand the airport that is situated on the 509-acre land right next to the barbed wire fence that separates Bangladesh and India.
“I have sent a proposal to the Centre to request the Bangladesh government to provide a piece of land, say less than 1 kilometre inside the border area to expand a runway of the MBB airport,” Deb told reporters at the BJP headquarters on Tuesday evening.
“If we can build a long runway and facilitate bigger aircrafts, Bangladesh will also be benefitted,” he said, adding that Bangladesh and India are close friends and they have been working together for trade and tourism for a long time.
He said India’s Ministry of External Affairs was requested to take up the matter with Bangladesh.
“It would allow the airport to operate large aircrafts in accordance with international standards,” Biplab said.
Earlier on August 1, Zanandra Nath Sarker, joint secretary at the Bangladesh’s civil aviation and tourism ministry, told The Daily Star that India made a verbal proposal to Bangladesh’s foreign ministry regarding the issue. The Indian authorities were then asked to send a detailed technical proposal in written form.
Asked about the matter, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen last week told reporters that he was not aware of any such proposal from India.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan had said he knew about one such proposal from India. He said there was no question of giving land to India.
Earlier, Imtiaz Ahmed, a Dhaka University prof at International Relations, said there were some airports that fell on the borders of two or even three countries, including that in Europe.
However, the context of South Asia is not comparable to that of Europe because of the structures of immigration, currency and politics.
He said if Bangladesh was to provide the land for the airport, its government must address the issues of security, sovereignty and commercial viability. Also, there should be a scope for joint handling of the airport by the two countries.