India to carry petroleum products via Bangladesh

Agartala, Sep 4 (IANS) The Indian Oil Corporation Limited (IOCL) will transport petroleum products from the northeastern state of Assam to Tripura through Bangladesh from September 7, an official said here on Sunday.

The official said the arrangement was due to the difficulties faced in carrying petrol and diesel through the Indian roads of the region.

The IOCL under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of the Indian Government and the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of the Bangladesh government had signed Memoranm of Understanding (MoU) in lieu of this in Dhaka on August 18.

“If the passports of the officials and truckers of IOCL were received by Tuesday, the transportation of the petroleum products from Assam to Tripura via Bangladesh would start from September 7,” an IOCL official said.

He said Indian oil tankers carrying petroleum products from Bongaigaon (northern Assam) will ply on the Dawki border (Meghalaya)- Tamabil (Bangladesh)- Chatlapur (Bangladesh)- Kailasahar (north Tripura) route covering a distance of 136 km in about four hours.

“This new route via Bangladesh would save time and costs in carrying petroleum products from Assam to Tripura as the existing over 400 km mountainous route required more than ten hours to carry these essential items. Besides, the condition of national highways through Meghalaya and southern Assam is horrifying,” the official added.

The short-term India-Bangladesh deal on shipping of the petroleum products is valid till September 30.

An official statement of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said based on the request by the Indian government, Bangladesh has granted permission for the movement of petroleum goods on humanitarian grounds through their territory.

The MoU will facilitate India to carry petroleum goods (Motor Spirit, High Speed Diesel, Superior Kerosene Oil and Liquefied Petroleum Gas) from Assam to Tripura through Bangladesh territory to make a buffer stock of them in the northeastern state.

Bangladesh had earlier allowed India to carry food grains and heavy machineries from different parts of India to northeastern state of Tripura via Bangladesh.

The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has transported a fresh consignment of 2,350 tonnes of rice last week from Kolkata to Tripura via Bangladesh to avoid transportation hitches through the traditional route of Assam and Meghalaya.

Earlier in 2012, Bangladesh had allowed state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and over-dimensional cargoes through Ashuganj port for the 726-MW Palatana mega power project in southern Tripura.

There is only a narrow land corridor to the northeastern region through Assam and West Bengal that passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends, making plying of vehicles, especially loaded trucks, very difficult.

Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata by road, and 2,637 km from New Delhi. But the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just 620 km.



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