New India-B’desh waterway to ease NE’s transport bottleneck

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To boost trade and people’s movement between India and Bangladesh and to ease the transportation bottleneck in the northeast, new waterway connectivity would be created and the Central government has sanctioned Rs 25 crore to build the necessary infrastructures in Tripura for the purpose, Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, said here on Tuesday.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India, the Land Port Authority of India and the Tripura government have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to build necessary infrastructure, including 10 new jetties on the Gomati river in Tripura to develop a new India-Bangladesh waterway.

Sonowal, who was accompanied by Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb, said that the new waterway would facilitate easy transportation between the northeastern states and Bangladesh.

“The proposed waterway would boost trade and people’s movement, as passenger and cargo vessels would be operated through this new water route. The tourism industry would get a further boost with the opening of new waterways,” he told the media.

The minister said that hydrogeological surveys would be conducted in the other rivers of Tripura to study the possibilities of developing more waterways between India and Bangladesh.

Eight major rivers flow down from Tripura to Bangladesh.

Biplab Kumar Deb said that with the opening of new waterways via Bangladesh, the distance between Tripura and Haldia port in West Bengal would be only 600 km and it would facilitate transportation of construction materials and other goods at a much cheaper cost besides saving time.

He said that as a giant bridge has been constructed over river Feni in southern Tripura, the state would also be soon connected with the Chittagong international port to ferry various goods and heavy machinery easily.

The Chittagong international sea port in Bangladesh is 75 km from southern Tripura.

As part of a trial run for shipping of goods from other parts of India to the northeast region via Bangladesh, the first consignment of goods from Bangladesh was ferried to Tripura by waterway in September 2020.

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

India and Bangladesh had earlier signed an MoU to ferry various goods, including foodgrains, from different parts of India to the mountainous northeastern states using Bangladeshi ports and surface roads to save time and transportation costs.

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