India, Bangladesh sign agreements to boost waterways connectivity

New Delhi: India and Bangladesh on Thursday signed three agreements, including one to use Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for goods movement, for enhancing inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two countries.

The two countries also signed a standard operating procedure (SOP) for movement of passenger and cruise services. They also signed an addendum to Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) between for inclusion of Dhubri in India and Pangaon in Bangladesh as new ports of call, Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna told reporters here.

During the secretary level talks headed by Krishna and his Bangladesh counterpart Md. Abdus Samad, the two sides also finalised the SOP for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on inland protocol route and coastal shipping routes which would enable river cruise services between Kolkata-Dhaka-Guwahati-Jorhat and back.

“These agreements will facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, giving an impetus to trade and tourism,” he said.

The two sides also agreed to include Rupnarayan river (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghat in West Bengal and Chilmari in Bangladesh as new ports of call.

“The new arrangement will facilitate movement of fly ash, cement and construction materials from India to Bangladesh on Rupnarayan river,” the Secretary said.

He added that the two countries had also arrived at an agreement to open a new route to land-locked Tripura by making Gomti and Haora rivers navigable for which dredging would be required in 20 kms on Indian side and 75-80 kms in Bangladesh side.

“Time-bound technical studies would be undertaken by both countries,” he said.

Prior to the secretary-level talks, the 19th edition of the Standing Committee meeting under ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) between high-level delegations of the two countries were held on Wednesday.

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