Enewstime Desk, Agartala, May 20, 2020:
The Sonamura (in Tripura) – Daudkhandi (in Bangladesh) stretch of Gomati River has been approved as India-Bangladesh Protocol Route on Wednesday. Sources said, With sincere efforts of Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, the 93-km long Route has been approved. This will strengthen bilateral trades of both the countries as well as boost economy of Tripura and help the State to emerge as the gateway to Northeast, sources said.
Chief Minister of Tripura Biplab Kumar Deb has conveyed his gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina for fast approval of the protocol route.
With an appeal for speedy process to approve the protocol route, the Chief Minister had written a letter to the Prime Minister recently and then held discussion on the issue with the Prime Minister during a video conferencing on May 14 last.
Within six days of Chief Minister’s appeal, the landmark decision has come as the 2nd addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was signed at Dhaka on Wednesday by Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India in Bangladesh; and Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, Secretary to Ministry of Shipping, Republic of Bangladesh.
The Protocol Route will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining states with Bangladesh’s economic centres and will help the hinterland of both the countries to a great extent and also boost the bilateral trade between both the countries. This route will connect all existing IBP routes.
Under the current Protocol, there are six Ports of Call each in India and Bangladesh. These are: Kolkata, Haldia, Karimganj, Pandu, Shilghat and Dhubri on Indian side and Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj, Ashuganj and Pangaon on Bangladesh side.
The newly added five Ports of Call on Indian side are: Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha and on Bangladesh side are: Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad. Further, two more extended Ports of Call – Tribeli (Bandel) and Badarpur on Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on Bangladesh side – have been added through this addendum, increasing the number to eleven Ports of Call and two extended Ports of Call in both the countries.
Besides, inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as a new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan. Now, Jogigopha also became important, since, a Multimodal Logistics Park is proposed to be established there. The new Ports of Call would enable the loading and unloading of cargo transported on the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route and provide a stimulus to the economic development of the new locations and their hinterland.
Under this Protocol, Inland vessels of both the countries can ply on the designated protocol route and dock at Ports of Call in each country, notified for loading / unloading of cargo. There has been significant improvement in the movement of cargo vessels in an organized manner on the Protocol route carrying both the transit cargo to North East region of India and vice-versa and export-cargo to Bangladesh.
The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal, fly-ash, POL and ODC for power projects in North East region. The other potential cargo for movement is fertilizers, cement, food grains, agricultural products, containerized cargo etc. The export cargo from India to Bangladesh is mainly fly-ash which is to the tune of 30 lakhs MT per annum. Around 638 inland vessels (including 600 Bangladeshi flag vessels) completed with approximately 4000 loaded voyages annually.
These additions to the Protocol will greatly facilitate the bilateral trade, with improved reliability and cost effectiveness for the business community and the people of both the countries.