The Union Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge), Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday flagged-off the first trial container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port of Bangladesh, in a virtual ceremony. This was done under the agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for the movement of India’s transit cargo through Bangladesh.
Speaking on the occasion, Mandaviya said that the route will open doors to new opportunities for both the countries. It will provide the alternative and shorter route to connect the Northeast Region through Bangladesh. Mandaviya said that this was a historic move to utilise Chattogram and Mongla Port for movement of India’s transit cargo and would open a new chapter in India-Bangladesh maritime relations.
The consignment of the trial movement includes two twenty-foot equivalent units (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 highlights 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 the transportation of goods for India and is beneficial 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 utilised to move the Indian cargo.
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 were added recently. Dredging of inland waterway routes is ongoing under an MoU, signed by the two countries on the development of fairway in selected stretches of Bangladesh waterways with India bearing 80 per cent of the project expenditure and the balance being borne by Bangladesh. Cruise services have also commenced between the two countries promoting tourism and people to people contacts.