Bangladesh and India yesterday added five more ports of call to its existing six and two Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) water routes -- a move that would not only allow the neighbouring country get transit facility but also boost bilateral trade.
The five new ports of call in Bangladesh that were put in the Second Addendum to the Protocol on Transit and Trade are Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad, while in Indian side are Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha.
The inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as a new port of call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan, said the Indian High Commission in a statement.
Both sides have also agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanised vessels.
This initiative will allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and North East cargo to Bangladesh and easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh, enhancing the local economy in Bangladesh and the lower Assam region of India.
The move would help reduce transport cost in exporting bulk amount of cement to Tripura and the other north-eastern states, said Md. Shahidullah, managing director of Metrocem Cement and first vice-president of Bangladesh Cement Manufacturers Association.
About 5 per cent of the country's total cement production head out to the north-eastern states of India.
Two more extended ports of call -- Tribeli (Bandel) and Badarpur on the Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on Bangladesh side -- were added through the addendum, which is the outcome of a two-year-long discussion between the two countries' shipping ministries.
Besides, the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes were increased from 8 to 10 after the Sonamura-Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river (93 km) were added.
The new route, which will be connecting all existing IBP routes, will improve the connectivity of Tripura and its adjoining states with India, said a shipping ministry official.
The protocol, which was first signed 1972 was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision of its automatic renewal for another five years, giving long-term assurance to various stakeholders.
"It is expected that these additions to the protocol will greatly facilitate bilateral trade, with improved reliability and cost-effectiveness for the business community and the people of both the countries," the Indian High Commission said.
Excellent connectivity provided by the existing and the newly added protocol routes is all the more pertinent in the present COVID-19 scenario as it will be instrumental in providing an economical, faster, safer and greener mode of transport, it said.