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India, Bangladesh adds 5 new waterway routes

The five new ports of call on the Indian side are Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura, Dhulian, and Jogigopha, while on the Bangladesh side they are Sultanganj, Rajshahi, Chilmari, Bahadurabad, and Daudkandi.

May 22, 2020 13:14 IST
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India and Bangladesh added the Sonamura-Daudkandi route on the Gomti river in Tripura and Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi route in Bangladesh, along with the four new routes, to the list of Indo-Bangladesh protocol routes on May 20, 2020, in Dhaka.

The added five more ports will increase the bilateral trade between the two countries and will provide and promote the economic development of the added locations.

The addendum to the protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was signed by Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das and Bangladesh’s Shipping secretary Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury.

The five new ports of call on the Indian side are Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura, Dhulian, and Jogigopha, while on the Bangladesh side they are Sultanganj, Rajshahi, Chilmari, Bahadurabad, and Daudkandi.

Key Highlights:

•   Currently there are six ports of call between India and Bangladesh. On India's side, they are, Haldia, Kolkata, Pandu, Karimganj, Dhubri, and Shilghat. On the Bangladesh side, they are Khulna, Narayanganj, Sirajganj, Mongla, Pangaon, and Ashuganj.

•   Through this addendum, two more extended ports of calls were added- Muktarpur and Ghorasal on Bangladesh side and Badarpur and Tribeli (Bandel) on the Indian side.

•   With this new development, there are now 11 ports of call in each country along with the extended ports of call.

•   The inclusion of Bahadurabad in Bangladesh and Jogigopha in India will provide the connectivity to Assam, Meghalaya, and Bhutan.

•   As per the Indian High Commission, Jogigopha becomes important since the multimodal logistics park is proposed to be established in India.

•   The number of Indo-Bangladesh protocol routes has been increased from 8 to 10 and new locations have also been added to the routes.

•   There has also been a significant improvement in the movement of cargo vessels in an organised manner on a protocol route.

•   Excellent connectivity between both the countries amid the COVID-19 scenario will be instrumental in providing economic support.

Benefits of the added ports:

•   With the Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi route coming in operation, there will be a development of infrastructure in Bangladesh as there will be a reduction in transportation cost of stone chips/aggregate to the northern part of Bangladesh.

•   As per the official statement, it will also decongest land custom stations on both sides. The High India Commission also informed that both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Dhubri (India) and Chilmari (Bangladesh) with the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.

•   It will also allow the export of stone chips and other Northeast and Bhutanese cargo to Bangladesh.

•   There will also be easy access for traders in the hinterlands of Bangladesh, which will help in enhancing the local economy there and in the lower Assam region of India.

•   Under the protocol, the inland vessels of both the countries will be able to ply the designated protocol route and dock at ports of call in each country, notified for loading and unloading the cargo.

•   The other potential cargo for movement will be cement, fertilisers, agricultural products, food grains. The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal POL, fly-ash and ODC for power projects

Background:

In the year 1972, the Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways of India and Bangladesh was signed by both the countries. In was last renewed in 2015 for five years along with a provision for an automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

In October 2018, during the discussions between Bangladesh and India at shipping ministry level in New Delhi, and in December 2019 in Dhaka, key decisions were taken on the inclusion of new routes, an extension of protocol routes and declaration of new ports of calls to promote the trade between India and Bangladesh.

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