New Delhi: The 10 locomotives that India gifted to Bangladesh last month were all second-hand but were “in good condition”, multiple sources have told ThePrint.
According to sources, the 10 broad gauge locomotives that New Delhi gifted to Dhaka was in line with a commitment that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had made to his Bangladeshi counterpart Sheikh Hasina during her visit to New Delhi in October 2019 when Dhaka had sought the locomotives.
They were commissioned in 2012 and 2015, and according to the original memorandum of understanding signed on this, “Dhaka sought second-hand locos that will be in good condition”, sources said.
The sources said Bangladesh was in “urgent need” of these locomotives as 72 per cent of its rail engines are in a worn-out condition. Thus, the Bangladesh government sought these locomotives from India on an urgent basis.
Sections of Bangladesh media slam locomotives
Ever since the Indian Railways gifted these locomotives to Bangladesh Railways on 27 July, however, the Modi government has come under scathing criticism in Dhaka for not sending brand-new ones.
According to certain news reports in Bangladesh’s vernacular press, India handed over second-hand and poor condition locomotives to Dhaka while keeping it in the dark.
Anurag Srivastava, Spokesperson, Ministry of External Affairs, during a press briefing last Thursday called the reports “mischievous” and said “these locos have been provided from our existing inventory based on a specific request and an urgent requirement of Bangladesh”. He, however, did not state clearly if these were brand new or second-hand locomotives.
The 10 locomotives were handed over in an online ceremony attended by Bangladesh Railway Minister Md. Nurul Islam Sujan, Foreign Minister A.K. Abdul Momen, Bangladesh High Commissioner to India Muhammad Imran, and the Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das. From the Indian side, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar and Railways Minister Piyush Goyal were present.
During the event, New Delhi said all locomotives have a residual life of 28 years or more, and they are designed for a speed of up to 120 km per hour.
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