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India’s Cargo Ship in Bangladesh Opens A New Chapter, Ahead lies a Larger Picture

ships to Bangladesh

A ship full of iron bars and pulses that started its journey from Kolkata’s port arrived at the Chittagong port of Bangladesh on July 21, 2020. You may ask what is the big deal in it. The details of it will certainly convince anyone how important an event it is. These containers will further travel through the land routes of Bangladesh to reach Tripura and Assam in the coming days. After 55 years, Bangladesh has opened its ports for India’s internal cargo.

Feeling pity about all those ‘experts’ who, along with Rahul Gandhi, opined that India’s relationship with neighbours like Bangladesh deteriorated? Now, let’s read the details.

Northeast is Getting the Benefit

India has limited land route option when it comes to connecting the North-eastern states, as the way through Siliguri corridor is the only connecting point. Moreover, transporting the cargo through land routes in the hilly region costs more money and time. Sending cargo through ships to Bangladesh and then delivering them to the destinations in the Northeast is cheaper. Bangladesh also gets business, as the cargo once unloaded from the ships needs to travel in Bangladeshi trucks to reach India’s Northeast borders.

As we explained in our earlier article, India in recent years has entered into similar agreement with Myanmar also by taking operational control of Sittwe port and developing Mizoram-Myanmar Kaladan road that connects to the North-eastern states of India.

An Agreement Inked in 2018

In October 2018, India entered into an agreement with Bangladesh for enhancing inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two countries for trade and cruise movements. It allowed to use Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India.

Other things that were agreed upon included the following:

  • Extending the number of Port of Call, so that increased quantity of Cargo could be transported.

Pic credit: Assam Inland Water Transport Development Society

  • Finalizing the Standard Operating Procedure for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on Inland Protocol route and coastal shipping routes. These river cruise services are likely to commence between Kolkata – Dhaka – Guwahati – Jorhat and back. A big boost to tourism.
  • It was also agreed upon to explore the feasibility of Dhulian-Rajshahi protocol route.
  • Two sides have also agreed for development of Jogighopa (Assam) as a hub/trans-shipment terminal for movement of cargo to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Bhutan and notifying Munsiganj River terminal by Bangladesh Customs for routing third party Exim cargo through Kolkata Port.

With this background, it is clear that the picture of waterway bonds between the nations is evolving and this first container ship from Kolkata to Agartala via Bangladesh is only a starting point.