Sources told FE the last consignment consisting of 5,000 tonne of rice from Kakinada port, Andhra Pradesh, reached Agartala using the Bangladesh route a few days ago.
A senior food ministry official said the successful transportation of foodgrain to Tripura via Bangladesh not only helped FCI in cutting down transportation costs but also helped commercial usage of Ashuganj port in Bangladesh. We will soon talk to the Bangladesh government for using other ports for transportation of foodgrain to the north-eastern states, a food ministry official said.
At present, FCI transports grain for Targeted Public Distribution System (TPDS) to north-eastern states such as Tripura via trucks that have to negotiate tough geographical terrain, vagaries of nature and frequent roadblocks by insurgent groups.
Besides, the railways is carrying out gauge conversion work between Assam and states such as Tripura , Manipur and Mizoram to improve the transportation network.
A truck travels more than 1,650 km to carry grain from Kolkata to Agartala through Guwahati a distance that is reduced to 350 km through the Bangladesh route.As part of a pilot project, FCI, following a bidding process, had awarded the contract for transportation of foodgrain to Delhi-based logistical company SARR freight.
To assess feasibility, for the first time Bangladeshi trucks carrying foodgrain from Ashuganj port were directly allowed into the FCI warehouse in Agartala so as to prevent a second transshipment at the Akhaura international border (Indo-Bangladesh border).
For the purpose of allowing Bangladesh trucks inside Indian territory, the ministry of external affairs had given necessary clearances and 'full truck scanners' were installed at the Akhaura checkpost.
The Indian government had also made arrangements for escorting of Bangladesh trucks along with drivers up to the warehouse and the return journey, apart from providing transit visa to truck drivers.
A few years ago, Dhaka had allowed state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) land access to transport heavy machinery for the Palatana mega power project in southern Tripura.
The north-eastern states are not self-sufficient in grains such as rice and wheat, and depend on supplies from Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.