India, after signing a road transport agreement with Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal, is said to be considering an ambitious bridge or undersea tunnel linking the Indian mainland with Sri Lanka.
India was mulling the project after the Manila-based Asian Development Bank (ADB) suggested that India look at a project linking Sri Lanka, roads minister Nitin Gadkari said at a Mint Conversation, a platform where special invitees interact with Mint staff.
“When I met ADB officials (in June), they told me to look at a connectivity project between the Indian mainland and Sri Lanka as well. They said that they would finance it. They proposed a bridge between Rameswaram and Sri Lanka,” Gadkari said.
“When I recently visited Rotterdam (Netherlands), I visited an immersed tunnel connecting Rotterdam and Belgium. So, it could be an immersed tunnel or a bridge. We are looking at it,” the minister said.
Connectivity as been a key theme in the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) for many years now and a beginning was made when India signed the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) transport pact in June in the Bhutanese capital, Thimphu.
The pact was proposed after SAARC, which also includes Afghanistan, the Maldives, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, failed to conclude a motor vehicles pact, along with an agreement on regional railways when the leaders of the eight nations met in Kathmandu in November 2014. This was because Pakistan was unable to secure internal clearances. India-Pakistan squabbles have been blamed for SAARC failing to realize its potential for economic integration.