Dhubri Port in Assam

Guwahati: Dhubri Port in Assam has potential to be an export hub for Bangladesh but functional challenges are stopping it to realise its full capacity.

This was said by Atowar Rahman, President, Dhubri Waterways International Traders Association, Dhubri, at the Multi-stakeholders and Traders’ Meeting on “Cross-Border Trade, Tourism and Navigation through Trans-boundary Inland Waterways between India and Bangladesh” organised on March 21 at Dhubri.

The meeting, attended by around 20 participants, was organised under a regional programme called ‘Trans-boundary Rivers of South Asia ( TROSA)’ supported by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and managed by Oxfam.

Rahman said the Brahmaputra now forms a secondary channel, thus huge dredging is required to make inland waterway navigable. Dhubri port is an important river port in Assam that is locaed in Dhubri town on the banks of the Brahmaputra. This port is located on National Waterway 2 and is important for port terminal. It is located near the Bangladesh border at the western end of National Waterway 2.

“The ground level issues and concerns faced by traders and exporters might not reach the policy-makers at the right time, thus this initiative is an attempt to bring forward  the issues faced by local traders and exporters involved in cross-border trade through Dhubri,” said Saurabh Kumar, Fellow, CUTS International, a global-policy think- and- action tank on trade, regulations and governance.

“Digitalisation of all the documents, faster implementation of EDI system (Electronic Database Interchange), and reduction of paper-work and time-bound approvals are highly required in this region. The port also needs more facilities that would facilitate smooth and efficient trade. Furthermore, reviving the Ro-Ro services in Dhubri Port will reduce the cost and time involved,” said Lalit Kumar Chopra, Manager and Chattered Accountant of Bhansali International, a leading export-import firm.

Other traders pointed out that Dhubri requires local vessel building, maintenance and repairing facility so that Indian vessels can also ply on India-Bangladesh Protocol route. Right now only Bangladeshi vessels are operating on this route which increases cost. Local traders also demanded that if import duty in Bangladesh is reduced on Indian products and become at par with Bhutanese products then local products can also be exported to Chilmari from Dhubri.

CUTS is providing traders a common platform to discuss the challenges and also raising their issues to Inland Waterways Authority of India and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.

TROSA is a five year regional water governance programme that aims to reduce poverty among riverine communities in the transboundary river basins of the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna and Salween.

More than 700 million South and South-East Asians depend on the Ganges, Brahmaputra, Meghna (GBM) and Salween river basins for food, water and energy needs. Transboundary river systems and the ecosystem services they provide are increasingly under threat by unregulated infrastructure development, unplanned land use practices and climate change, with strong impact on riverine communities. Many of such communities are disadvantaged by lack of cooperation and lack of capacity to claim their rights over water and related natural resources.

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