The first consignment of goods from Kolkata arrived in Tripura on Thursday as part of a trial run for shipping of goods through Chottogram port and others from other parts of India to the northeast region via Bangladesh.
Chittagong Port Authority Secretary Md Omar Faruk told IANS on Tuesday: “The first ship under the trial run of transshipment of Indian goods to its northeastern states through Bangladesh arrived at Chottogram (Chittagong) port on Tuesday morning.
“MV Shejyoti, carrying back to Chattogam 4 TEUs (20-feet equivalent unit) with 221 containers full of transhipment goods from India’s Haldia port, reached the NCT-1 Berth, the outer anchorage of Chottogram port at around 1.25 a.m. But as night navigation is restricted in the port, that is why we started the navigation at morning,” he said.
From Chattogram international port, four Bangladeshi trucks carried the goods up to Akhaura Land Port (adjacent to Agartala city), where the consignment was formally received by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb. The consignment of steel bars was subsequently ferried to western Tripura’s Jirania while the pulses were transported to southern Assam’s Karimganj.
India and Bangladesh had earlier signed a MoU to ferry various goods including foodgrains from different parts of India to the hilly northeastern states using Bangladeshi ports and surface roads to save time and transportation costs.
Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata by road, and 2,637 km from New Delhi while the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just 620 km. There is only a narrow land corridor to the northeastern region through Assam and West Bengal, but this route passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends, making plying of vehicles, especially loaded trucks, very difficult, risky and time consuming.
The Tripura Chief Minister later told the media at the Akhaura ICP that the Indian government in consultation with the Bangladesh government has made available several road, water and railway routes to ferry goods from other parts of the country to the northeast region via the neighbouring country.
“Earlier there was a lone surface road (NH 8) linking Tripura with the rest of the country, occasionally causing economic crisis and huge escalation of prices. Now in just two years at least three waterways are being opened besides several surface and railway transport. The waterway distance from (Kolkata’s) Haldia port to Chattogram international port is 400 km and from Chottogram sea port (in southeast Bangladesh) to Akhaura Land Port (along Agartala) is 200 km,” he said.
Deb, who also holds the Industries and Commerce portfolio, said that both northeast India and Bangladesh would benefit economically if the transportation of goods via that country continued. “A new waterway between Tripura and Bangladesh would start soon and it would boost trade and numerous economic activities. The barge carrying goods from other parts of the country would come to Tripura via Bangladeshi waterways,” he added.
A temporary jetty was built at Sonamura in western Tripura to start the new waterway through the Gomati river between Tripura and Bangladesh.
Increasing the number of new waterways, the “Second Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade” was signed in Dhaka on May 20 by Indian High Commissioner in Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das and Bangladesh Shipping Ministry Secretary Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury. To boost trade, economic activity and connectivity, India and Bangladesh under the May 20 deal, have added five more “ports of call” on either side and increased the protocol (water) routes from 8 to 10. There are six “ports of call” each in India and Bangladesh.
The new five “ports of call” on the Indian side are Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha and on the Bangladesh side Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad. Two more extended “ports of call” — Tribeli (Bandel) and Badarpur in India and Ghorasal and Muktarpur in Bangladesh — have been added.Agartala IANS, 15:55
( The text is slightly edited for The PC’s preferred spelling like Chottogram, Akhaura Land Port instead of Akhaura Integrated Check Post, etc, and the headline as The PC finds finds it, what it’s now, describes better . )