India is taking steps to improve trade ties with
member countries of the South Asia Association for Regional
Co-operation (SAARC) and to facilitate easy movement
of people within the grouping, external affairs minister
Pranab Mukherjee said.
government, he said, is considering a move to reduce
customs duty on goods imported from poor countries.
Speaking after inaugurating a regional passport office
in Baharampur, in West Bengal, he said the passport
office would cater to the needs of people of Nadia,
Mushidabad and Birbhum districts.
is the third passport office in West Bengal, the other
two being in Siliguri and in Kolkata.
the SAARC Regional Multi Modal Transport Study (SRMTS)
has proposed that Nepal build four regional-level roads
and two railway lines that would link other SAARC nations.
In a report prepared after a regional study on transit,
the SRMTS also suggested Nepal improve the Tribhuvan
International Airport, the only international airport
in the country.
In accordance with a plan that was passed at the SAARC
summit in Islamabad in 2004, a task force was formed
consisting of experts of all member countries with a
view to upgrading transit and communication facilities
in the region.
The report said that the road network could be instrumental
for Nepal to have access to sea ports in member nations.
It has identified a total of 18 road networks, including
14 which are in operation.
In Nepal''s case, the Kathmandu-Birgunj-Kolkata-Haldia
road was proposed as the first road link. The proposed
1,323 km road can benefit Nepal in developing Birgunj
in central Nepal as a dry port, the report said.
The second proposed road is the Kathmandu-Kankadbhitta-Fulbari-
Mangola-Chatgaon link. The 1,394 km road will link Nepal
with Bangladesh ports of Mangola and Chatgaon.
road proposed is the Kathmandu-Nepalgunj-New Delhi-
Bagha border-Lahore-Karachi link. Kathmandu-Bhairahawa-Sunauli-
Lucknow is the fourth road network proposed for Nepal
report further proposed a fast-track road on the Kathmandu-
Birgunj route. Nepal has also been suggested to construct
two railway lines linking India ''s Kolkata and Haldia
and Bangladesh''s Chatgaon.
The first railway line would link Nepal from Birgunj
to Bangladesh''s Chatgaon via India ''s Raxaul and Katihar.
The second railway track will pass through Birgunj-Raxaul
and reach Kolkata''s Haldia sea port.