Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her Indian counterpart Narendra Modi jointly inaugurated the second Integrated Check Post (ICP) along the Benapole-Petrapole part of Bangladesh-India border on Thursday, aiming to facilitate easy movement of goods and passengers across the border.The prime ministers of the two countries joined the inauguration ceremony from Dhaka and New Delhi through videoconferencing, while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee from Kolkata.”India stands with Bangladesh in its fight against terrorism and will extend all possible help in this regard,” Indian Prime Minister Modi said on the occasion.Modi said eight such integrated checkposts will be set up along India-Bangladesh border in times to come.”I extend Eid greetings to Bangladesh PM and its citizens,” Modi told Sheikh Hasina adding, “I condemn the terror attack on Eid congregation in Kishoreganj.”Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said the inauguration of the checkpost will promote trade between the two countries.
The integrated checkpost at Agartala along the Akhaura-Agartala was the first of seven land customs stations along the Bangladesh-India border, being upgraded by the Land Port Authority of India. It was inaugurated in November, 2013.The others are Burimari-Chengrabandha, Sonamasjid-Mahadipur, Hilli-Hilli, Bibirbazar-Srimantpur and Banglabandhu-Fulbari.Petrapole-Benapole is a very important land border crossing for India-Bangladesh trade. Around 70-80 percent of the India-Bangladesh trade passes through Petrapole. Trade worth around USD 5 billion takes place at Petrapole, which is more than all the other Indian Land Ports and Land Customs Stations put together. Approximately 1.2 million people and 150,000 trucks cross Petrapole-Benapole every year, according to a foreign ministry release.The Petrapole ICP is envisaged to overcome the infrastructural bottlenecks to provide facilities for effective and efficient discharge of functions such as security, immigration, customs, and quarantine, while also providing support facilities for smooth cross-border movement of persons, goods and transport.It will also be the biggest land port in South Asia. After Petrapole, the next LCS to be upgraded will be Dawki in Meghalaya where land acquisition has been completed.It is expected that the capacity will double with the commissioning of the Petrapole ICP and the local business community will benefit immensely from reduced transaction time and costs.The commissioning of the Petrapole ICP will also serve to foster greater economic integration and connectivity between India and Bangladesh.