Neighbourhood First: India and Bangladesh to operationalise route 9 and 10, better connectivity to enhance trade

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August 26, 2020 2:20 PM

“The pilot movement is scheduled for Sept 3, 2020. The permission for the pilot run was given by BIWTA earlier this week,” top sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online.

Neighbourhood First policy,,india bangladesh ties, Inland Water Authority of India, BIWTA, PIWT&T route, india bangladesh bilateral route, narendra modi,shiekh hasinaThe two countries inked PIWT&T in 1972. (File photo: PTI)

Inland Water Authority of India and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) are getting set for the early operationalization of the newly added Protocol for Inland Water Trade & Transit (PIWT&T) route 9 & 10. The first pilot movement on this route is expected to be conducted next month.

“The pilot movement is scheduled for Sept 3, 2020. The permission for the pilot run was given by BIWTA earlier this week,” top sources have confirmed to Financial Express Online.

“The operationalization of the new protocol route will help in strengthening bilateral trade and the improved reliability and cost-effectiveness is expected to help the people and business community of both countries,” sources added.

The connectivity provided by the existing and the newly added protocol routes is all the more pertinent in the present Covid-19 scenario. “These new routes will play a critical role in providing economical, faster, safer and greener mode of transport for traders and business communities of both the countries and will also have environmental benefits for the region.”

Sources also mentioned that it is not a transhipment operation. “Rather, there will be regular export/ import cargo movement which will be using the inland waterways between the two countries.”

Background about PIWT&T Route 9 & 10

The two countries inked PIWT&T in 1972. Under this, it was to provide inland waterways connectivity between the two which was to be used for bilateral trade. And also for improving the connectivity to North East States of India through waterways.

In the FY 2019-2020, approx. 3.5 MMT of cargo was transported between India and Bangladesh on the protocol routes.

The government has further expanded the scope by the signing of the 2nd Addendum to PIWT&T in May, 2020. Now, with the 2nd Addendum to PIWTT, two new protocol routes, five new Ports of Call and two Extended Ports of Call have been added. And this takes the number of protocol routes to 10, ports of call to 11, extended ports of call to 2.

The decisions for the further expansion were taken based on the discussions that had taken place between the two sides in October, 2018 in New Delhi and in December, 2019 in Dhaka. During these meetings issues related to the extension of protocol routes, the inclusion of new routes, and declaration of new Ports of Call to facilitate trade between the two countries were decided.

Which are the new routes?

Sonamura- Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti River (93 km) as IBP Route No. 9 & 10 will help in improving the connectivity of Tripura and will also connect the adjoining States with the economic centres in both countries.

Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routes and their extension up to Aricha (270 km) will help in improving the infrastructure in Bangladesh, which in turn will reduce the transportation cost of stone chips/aggregate to the northern part of that country through this route.

And will help in decongesting the Land Custom Stations on both sides.

Based on new additions, in Routes (1) & (2) [Kolkata-Shilghat-Kolkata] and Routes (3) & (4) [Kolkata-Karimganj-Kolkata], Kolaghat in India has been added.

Routes (3) & (4) [Kolkata-Karimganj-Kolkata] and Routes (7) & (8) [Karimganj-Shilghat-Karimganj] all these have been extended up to Badarpur in India.

Ghorasal in Bangladesh has also been added.

Details of the Movement

Type of Cargo- Premier Cement Ltd. from Bangladesh will send export cargo (break bulk cargo) of 50 MT of cement to Tripura.

Port of Sailing- Daukandi (Bangladesh)

Port of Calling- Sonamura (Tripura)

Vessel Name: M V Premier (Bangladeshi Vessel)

Total length of the route- Sonamura – Daudkandi –93 km on River Gumti

According to officials, the customs formalities will be completed at LCS Srimantapur – Bibirbazar.

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