Agartala: Tripura chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb on Thursday received the first trial container ship which left from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram and Mongla ports of Bangladesh.
Union minister of state for shipping (independent charge) Manusukh Mandaviya flagged it off virtually from Delhi on July 15.
Receiving the containers with TMT bars and pulses for the state, Deb thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his Bangladesh counterpart Sheikh Hasina for fulfilling the long-pending demand made since 1975.
Earlier on Thursday morning, while addressing the nation after laying the foundation stone of Manipur water supply project, Prime Minister Modi said that the recent agreement between Bangladesh and India for using the inland waterways will boost the region and generate employment for youths.
“During the Left Front regime, the state had only one lifeline, while now we have added seven lifelines to the state including land ways, airways and inland waterways. With the trade starting between the two nations, both Tripura and Bangladesh would be benefited”, Deb said.
He also said that during the monsoon season the state faces huge difficulties as the connectivity between the states get interrupted due to poor road conditions.
“Due to the poor road conditions the goods trucks had to face difficulties in reaching the state’s capital due to which the price of commodities gets higher. The work for renovation of Agartala-Assam National Highway is likely to be completed shortly”, Deb added.
He also counted the development work carried out in the railway connectivity during the last two years of the BJP-IPFT government. The work of Agartala-Akhaura rail link is also at full swing.
The chief minister also said that by using the Chittagong port the distance which was earlier 1600 k m has now reduced to just 600 kms from Haldia via Chattogram port.
“Of the total 600 km distance 400 km was covered through waterways from Haldia to Chattogram and from there the goods were transported in trucks for 200 kms. Once the construction of bridge over river Feni is completed in December, the distance will further be reduced to just 60 km“, Deb added.
He also said that the traders have saved an amount of Rs 50,000 by using the inland waterways. Earlier the price for covering 1600 km distance was Rs 6,300 per metric tonnes which has now reduced to Rs 5,600. The saving in transportation and cost will also reduce the market price, Deb said.
Chief minister also said that presently the state imports goods worth over Rs 645 crore, while exports is done of Rs 30 crore. “With the connectivity between the state, in next one year the export is likely to cross Rs 400 cr and import would be of over Rs 2,000 crore, while in five years the import is likely to cross Rs 4,200 crore mark and export of over Rs 1,200 crore“, Deb added.
Earlier 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.
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.