Bangladesh and India signed an agreement to facilitate movement of goods to and from India through the Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh.
The two countries signed several ‘milestone agreements’ for enhancing inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two countries for trade and cruise movements.
Briefing media persons in New Delhi on Thursday evening, Indian shipping secretary Gopal Krishna and his Bangladesh counterpart Md Abdus Samad disclosed the details of the deals.
A standard operating procedure was also signed for movement of passenger and cruise services, according to Press Information Bureau of India.
In addition to this, an addendum to protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh was signed for inclusion of Dhubri in India and Pangaon in Bangladesh as new ports of call.
These agreements would facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, giving an impetus to trade and tourism, said the PIB.
The two sides agreed to consider inclusion of River Rupnarayan (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghat in West Bengal as new ports of call.
Chilmari was agreed as a port of call in Bangladesh.
The new arrangement would facilitate movement of flyash, cement and construction materials from India to Bangladesh through IWT on the River Rupnarayan.
Further, both sides agreed to declare Badarpur on the River Barak (NW 16) as an extended port of call of Karimganj in Assam and Ghorashal of Ashuganj in Bangladesh on reciprocal basis.
The Indian side proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata up to Silchar in Assam.
Currently 3.5 MMT cargo was transported on protocol routes through inland waterways which was expected to increase substantially after the declaration of additional ports of call and extension of protocol routes.
The North Eastern states would get connected directly to the ports of Kolkata and Haldia in India and Mongla in Bangladesh through waterways which would facilitate movement of EXIM cargo and would also reduce the logistic costs.
In another important understanding reached between the two countries, the standard operating procedure for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on inland protocol route and coastal shipping routes was finalised.
These river cruise services were likely to commence between Kolkata, Dhaka, Guwahati, Jorhat and back.
It was also agreed that a joint technical committee would explore the technical feasibility of operationalisation of the Dhulian-Rajshahi protocol route up to Aricha and the reconstruction and opening up of Jangipur navigational lock on the River Bhagirathi subject to the provisions of the treaty between India and Bangladesh on Sharing of Ganga Waters at Farakka, 1996.
This move had the potential to reduce the distance to Assam from India’s main part by more than 450 kilometres on the protocol routes.
It was also decided that a project management consultant for supervision and monitoring of dredging of Ashuganj-Zakiganj and Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretches of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route in Bangladesh would be engaged with 80 per cent financial contribution from India and rest by Bangladesh.
A joint monitoring committee was also constituted for overall monitoring of the dredging works.
To bring about significant reduction in logistic costs and faster delivery of Bangladesh export cargo, Indian side raised the point regarding permitting ‘third country’ EXIM trade under Coastal Shipping Agreement and PIWTT by allowing trans-shipment through ports on the east of India.
Bangladesh agreed to hold stakeholder consultations on the matter.
Both sides also agreed for development of Jogighopa as a hub or trans-shipment terminal for movement of cargo to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Bhutan and notifying River Munsiganj terminal by Bangladesh Customs for routing third party Exim cargo through Kolkata Port.
Discussions were also held to make Nakugaon Land Port in Bangladesh and Dalu ICP (India) operational and to connect Gelephu (Bhutan) as tripartite cross-border route.
Permission for the transportation of third country cargo on protocol routes and coastal shipping routes were also discussed. Inclusion of Dhamra Port, VO Chidambaranar Port (formerly Tuticorin Port) and Kamarajar Port under Coastal Shipping Agreement was also deliberated upon.
These will be further discussed in the joint shipping committee meeting scheduled in December, 2018.
Prior to the secretary shipping level talks held on Thursday, the 19th edition of the standing committee meeting under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between high level delegations of the two countries was held on Wednesday.
The daylong meeting was attended by representatives of Ministries of Shipping, External Affairs, Home, Finance, DONER and Inland Waterways Authority of India and officials from Bangladesh belonging to Ministry of Shipping, Board of Revenue, DG (shipping) and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority.
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