Agartala: Union minister of state for shipping (independent charge) Manusukh Mandaviya on Thursday in a virtual ceremony flagged off the first trial container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram and Mongla ports of Bangladesh.
This has been done under the agreement on use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh.
Speaking at the inaugural session, Mandaviya said that the route will open doors of new opportunities for both the countries. It will provide the alternative and shorter route to connect the Northeast region through Bangladesh.
“This is a historic move to utilize Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of India’s transit cargo. It will be a new chapter in India-Bangladesh maritime relations,” he said.
The consignment of the trial movement includes two TEUs carrying TMT steel bars destined for West Tripura district and two TEUs carrying pulses destined for Karimganj, Assam. After reaching Chattogram, the consignment will move to Agartala on Bangladeshi trucks.
The trial runs highlight the efforts that both sides have undertaken to strengthen the connectivity between Bangladesh and the Northeastern states of India, as per the understanding reached between the two countries at the highest level.
During the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2019, when the Standard Operating Procedures for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, were concluded. This movement further strengthens the long standing partnership between India and Bangladesh.
It will reduce distance and time taken in transportation of goods for India and is a win-win for both the economies. Job creation, investment in the logistical sector, enhanced business services and revenue generation are advantages that will accrue to Bangladesh. Bangladeshi vessels and trucks will be utilized to move the Indian cargo.
A press statement also informed that India and Bangladesh have enhanced cooperation in shipping and inland water trade in recent years. Under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, in addition to the six existing Ports of Call, five more in each country have been added recently.
Dredging of inland waterway routes is ongoing under a MoU, signed by the two countries on development of a fairway in selected stretches of Bangladesh waterways with India bearing 80% of the project expenditure and the balance being borne by Bangladesh.
Replying to the Union minister’s tweet, Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb wrote, “It’s really a big achievement for the entire NE including Tripura. On behalf of the people of Tripura, I convey sincere gratitude to our PM Shri @narendramodi ji and Union Minister of state for Shipping Shri @mansukhmandviya for making this possible during this COVID19 pandemic”.
“Happy to share that 4 Containers carrying TMT Bars & Pulses have left Netaji Subhash Dock, Kolkata by Vessel on 16th July 2020 for Agt via Chattogram Port. The Cargo will arrive at Chattogram Port on 20th/21st July & containers will arrive at Agartala ICP on 26th July by road”, he wrote.
On June 20, with the signing of the 2nd Addendum on protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh, the Sonamura- Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti River (93 km) was approved as India-Bangladesh protocol route.
Meanwhile, the Gomati river would be dredged to make way for small ships and boats from Sonamura to Ashuganj port in Bangladesh, which is just 60 km away from here. The testing would be done in this monsoon season itself.
Earlier, chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb said that for now small ships and boats can move easily since it is monsoon season and the river has sufficient water for the movement through the temporary jetty.
Deb said both India and Bangladesh signed the agreement and have decided to start the trade amidst the pandemic. I hope that ships will start from the temporary jetty which is being set up in 3 to 4 months time.