Source: The Economic Times, May 20, 2020
New Delhi: India and Bangladesh have opened a new chapter in regional connectivity by expanding scope of inland water transport mechanism that would enable to boost trade in region.
High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das and Secretary, Ministry of Shipping government of Bangladesh Mohammad Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury signed the addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade in Dhaka on Wednesday.
According to a press release issued by the High Commission of India in Bangladesh on Wednesday, the number of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes are being increased from eight to ten. This includes the Sonamura- Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river and the operationalisation of the Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi routes with the extension up to Aricha.
The Sonamura-Daudkhandi route will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining states.
The Rajshahi-Dhulian route will augment infrastructure in Bangladesh and reduce transportation cost of stone chips to Bangladesh.
The agreement also operationalises five new ports of call between Indian and Bangladesh.
Among the newly added ports of call, Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha are on the Indian side while Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad are on Bangladesh side.
Further, two more extended Ports of Call – Tribeli (Bandel) and Badarpur on Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on Bangladesh side – have been included through this addendum.
With this the total number of ports of call is now eleven and two extended Ports of Call in both the countries.
Inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan.
Currently there are six ports of call each in Bangladesh and India.
The two countries have also agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari in Bangladesh and Dhubri in India through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.
This initiative will allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and North East cargo to Bangladesh and easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh.
The agreement will allow Inland vessels of both the countries to ply on the designated protocol route and dock at Ports of Call in each country, notified for loading and unloading of cargo. It will help boost bilateral trade and connectivity between the two countries.
The decision to add new protocol routes and inclusion of new routes and addition of new ports of call to facilitate trade between the two countries was taken in October 2018 which has now been operationalised.