- The India-Bangladesh maritime connectivity has been given a major boost with the successful trial of the transhipment of goods to India’s north-eastern States via the Chittagong port.
- In July 2020, MV Shejyoti, a ship with cargo for Bangladeshi businesses and also four containers bound for Indian States of Tripura and Assam, set sail from the Shyama Prasad Mukherjee Port at Haldia in West Bengal, India, for Chittagong.
- The journey was historic since this was the first trial of the transhipment facility to India’s landlocked north-eastern region via the Chittagong port.
- 1972: India-Bangladesh already have an Inland Water Trade and Transit treaty and a protocol which was first signed in 1972.
- As per the Protocol, inland vessels of one country can transit through the specified routes of the other country.
- Time and again to this protocol, new routes and new ports of call are being added.
- In 2010, India and Bangladesh signed transit agreement to use Chattogram & mongla.
- In 2015, Under the Coastal shipping agreement, MoU for the above was formalised.
- In 2018, a bilateral agreement was signed to allow the use of Chittagong and Mongla ports for the purpose, the current transhipment is an outcome of this.
- In 2019, standard operating procedures were finalised during PM Sheikh Hasina’s visit to India.
- The SOP allows transhipment of goods from Chittagong and Mongla on four road, rail, and water routes to
- Agartala (Tripura) via Akhaura
- Dawki (Meghalaya) via Tamabil
- Sutarkandi (Assam) via Sheila
- Srimantpur (Tripura) via Bibirbazar
- In May 2020, the two countries have signed an addendum to the protocol, adding 2 new routes and 5 new port of calls on each side.
- Currently, Inland water protocol has a total of 10 routes and 11 port of calls on each side.
The Benefits – Bangaldesh
- Experts feel that this facility will contribute to enhancing business services and revenue generation in Bangladesh.
- It is expected to help Bangladesh in job-creation and investment in the logistical sector since Bangladeshi vessels and trucks will be utilised to move the Indian cargo.
- Indian cargo also has to pay requisite taxes to use the facility in Bangladesh.
- The facility is considered to be the first step in fulfilling the present Awami League government’s desire to transform Bangladesh into a connectivity hub.
The Benefits – India
- Bangladesh is likely to get monetary benefit but India is going to get much more..!!
- Access to Chittagong and Mongla ports has been a phenomenal step. It is going to enhance the connectivity to NER which has been India’s Achilles heel.
- It will also help India to achieve its goals of Act East policy.
The Mutual Benefits
The Mutual Benefits
- The beginning of this transhipment facility is a telling example of
- Cooperative attitude between nations
- Two nations’ vision to strengthen the bilateral connectivity and develop a mutually-beneficial partnership
- In this complex sub-regional geo-politics, India and Bangladesh provide a unique model of good-neighbourly relationship.