The representatives of the All Tripura Merchant Association (ATMA), Indian-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Tripura Chapter) at Sonamura port Credit: EastMojo image

Agartala: Indo-Bangla traders on Tuesday held a discussion on trade benefits of Sonamura river port (India) to Daudkandi port in Bangladesh and demanded a trial run within August through the newly sanctioned inland waterways protocol route.

Earlier, the 2nd addendum to the protocol on inland water transit and trade was signed in Dhaka on May 20 by Riva Ganguly Das, high commissioner of India in Bangladesh, and Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, secretary to ministry of shipping, Bangladesh.

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A high-level team of officials from Bangladesh on Tuesday surveyed the stretch of protocol route in their part and returned to Bangladesh.

Speaking with reporters, All Tripura Merchant Association (ATMA) general secretary Sujit Roy said that the traders from both the nations discussed the importing and exporting of goods through the protocol route and proposed a trail run to expedite the process.

“The import and export of goods through the inland waterways will reduce the transportation cost and benefit the traders of both nations. We had some issues which we have brought in notice of the administration. We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Sheikh Hasina and chief minister Biplab Kumar Deb for their initiatives in commencing the protocol route,” Roy said.

He also said that a trial run of within this month should be done in the protocol route with the aim to expedite the process.

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Earlier, visiting the port site where the work for commissioning the inland waterways connectivity On May 29, chief minister 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.”

He also said that for now small ships and boats can move with 50 tons of capacity easily since it is monsoon season and the river has sufficient water for the movement through the temporary jetty.

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Meanwhile, Sonamura Sub-divisional magistrate Subrata Majumder said that the traders from both the countries held a discussion on Tuesday and demanded to extend the leading and unloading time of goods and materials at Srimantapur Land Customs Station (LCS).

“The Indian traders have proposed for a trial run in the protocol route, while trades from Bangladesh have expressed their interest to import more Indian goods through Sonamura LCS,” Chakraborty said.

The representatives of the All Tripura Merchant Association (ATMA), Indian-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Tripura Chapter), Sonamura sub-division magistrate was present among others.

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The export cargo from India to Bangladesh is mainly fly-ash which is to the tune of 30 lakh MT per annum. Around 638 inland vessels (including 600 Bangladeshi flag vessels) completed with approximately 4,000 loaded voyages annually.

The chief minister on July 23 said that currently 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.

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