Why is India eyeing this port of Bangladesh, China will be jealous

Ananya Shroff
4 Min Read

New Delhi: The Dragon has its eyes on Bangladesh's Mongla Port. It constantly wants to capture this port. However, India has stopped its efforts. India has shown interest in operating Bangladesh's Mongla Port and building a new terminal there. India already has the rights to operate Iran's Chabahar Port and Myanmar's Sittwe Port. According to people familiar with the developments in the Asian continent, if this move is successful, it will be a major strategic success for India.

The operation of Mongla Port will further help India to counter the growing strategic presence of its neighbour China. It will also help in managing ports in both the western and eastern parts of the Indian Ocean region. This matter can prove to be a milestone in the partnership of the two countries, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi will meet Bangladesh PM Sheikh Hasina over the weekend. At the same time, the Prime Minister of Bangladesh is planning to come on a state visit to India later this month or in early July. Hasina congratulated PM Modi on Tuesday night after the BJP-led NDA's third consecutive victory in the Lok Sabha elections.

On the other hand, China is also urging Hasina to include Beijing in her itinerary. However, the Bangladesh PM is not keen to make this trip before her India visit. The Modi government has invited Sheikh Hasina to visit India along with top leaders of Nepal, Bhutan, Mauritius and Sri Lanka. These leaders have been invited for the swearing-in ceremony of the Modi 3.0 government. Sources said the Center is keeping an eye on China's efforts to manage a major infrastructure project in India's neighborhood. This is also an uncomfortable issue. Given this, when PM Modi meets his counterparts this weekend, cross-border connectivity projects and trade initiatives may be the key issues that will be discussed during this time.

India already has cargo handling facilities for the northeastern states in Chittagong and Mongla ports. This bypasses the 1,650-km-long Chicken Neck corridor. Last month, an Indian delegation from India Ports Global Ltd led by its managing director Sunil Mukundan visited Mongla port to study the operational facilities in detail, our sister publication ET has learnt. If the talks progress successfully, Mongla will be the third international port operation to be taken over by India after Chabahar port in Iran and Sittwe in Myanmar. Both these ports are managed by India Ports Global Ltd (IPGL).

The India-Russia joint venture in Sri Lanka has got the rights to manage the airport around the Hambantota port managed by China. IPGL has now been asked to submit a detailed written proposal to the Mongla Port Authority. A representative of the Mongla Port Authority said that the delegation was told that the proposal will be evaluated after it is received. If it is found beneficial, it will be sent to the government for decision.

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