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Bangladesh approves four transit routes for goods transportation to North- East India

Utkarsh Classes 07-08-2023
Bangladesh approves four transit routes for goods transportation to  North- East India Economy 8 min read

According to Sanatana Chakma,Minister for  Industries and Commerce Tripura government ,the Bangladeshi government has approved four transit routes for transportation of goods to Tripura and other north-eastern states through Bangladesh.

The Bangladeshi government has approved the following transit routes: 

  • Chittagong Port-Akhaura-Agartala, 

  • Mongla Port-Akhaura-Agartala, 

  • Chittagong-Bibir Bazar-Srimantapur, and 

  • Mongla Port-Bibir Bazar-Srimantapur 

The Chittagong  or Chattogram Port to Agartala  and Mongla Port to Agartala will be via Tripura.

The  Chittagong- Srimantapur and Mongla Port to Srimantapur will be through West Bengal.

India has  now received access to Chattogram (Chittagong) and Mongla ports in Bangladesh . It will open the landlocked north-eastern states' access to the Bay of Bengal. It will  significantly reduce the distance and cost of movement of goods and is expected to give a boost to the economic development of the region.

Significance of the Move 

The  8 North Eastern States of India , Assam, Sikkim, Meghalaya, Mizoram,Manipur, Nagaland ,Arunachal Pradesh and Tripura are one of the most underdeveloped regions of the country .

One of the main reasons for its under development has been the issue of transportation of goods between the rest of the country and the northeastern region. 

The North East region is connected through the rest of the country through a narrow road and rail strip popularly called Siliguri corridor or  chicken neck .

The Siliguri corridor which passes through Darjeeling area of West Bengal is  just 20-22 km wide.  

So if a good from Tripura is to reach the Kolkata port then it will have to travel at least 1600 Km passing through the Siliguri corridor . Also, due to its narrow width there is often traffic congestion on the Siliguri corridor  leading to delay in the transportation of goods .

Solution to the problem 

Of the eight  states in the region, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram  share a 1,879 km border with Bangladesh.

Bangladesh  is geographically closer to these states . So if goods from India are sent to these north eastern states through Bangladesh it will be more cost effective than using the Siliguri corridor.

For example, if the goods are transported from Kolkata port to Tripura through the Bangladeshi port then the distance will be reduced to just 450 Km.

Indian government’s proposal to Bangladesh 

The Government of India had proposed to Bangladesh to allow it to use two of Bangladesh  largest ports i.e  Chittagong and Mongla ports. Goods can be sent from Kolkata port to these ports and then from there the goods can be carried by road or rail network passing through Bangladesh to these landlocked northeastern states.

India will pay Bangladesh for use of its ports,rail or road network for  transportation of goods .

The Bangladeshi government accepted the Indian proposal and on  25 April 2023, the National Board of Revenue (NBR) of Bangladesh issued a “permanent transit order” for India to facilitate transit and transshipment of cargo on two major ports of Bangladesh.

Steps to improve connectivity between India and Bangladesh 

Various steps have been taken by the Indian and the Bangladeshi government to increase connectivity between the two countries .

Some of the major steps are : 

  • In March 2021, Prime minister Narendra Modi and the Bangladesh Prime minister Sheikh Hasina inaugurated the Maitri Setu. It is a 1.9 km bridge over Feni river which has reduced the distance between Sabroom in southern Tripura and the Chittagong port to just 111 km.

  • A multi-modal( rail and road) transit hub is also being developed at Sabroom, featuring road and rail connectivity to enable faster transportation of goods to the port.

  • There is a proposal to connect  Dawki in Meghalaya via Tamabil, Sutarkandi in Assam via Sheola to the two major ports in Bangladesh.

  • A total of 16 transit routes have been declared allowing cargo transportation through which landlocked Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura states could access open water routes.

India Bangladesh International Boundary 

India shares its largest international boundary with Bangladesh . It is 4,096.7  Km long 

Of the eight  states in the region — Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram — share a 1,879 km border with Bangladesh.

People's Republic of Bangladesh  

Bangladesh is bordered by the Indian states of West Bengal to the west and north, Assam to the north, Meghalaya to the north and northeast, and Tripura and Mizoram to the east. 

President : Mohammad Shahabuddin Chuppu

Prime Minister : Sheikh Hasina Wajid 

Capital : Dhaka 

Currency : Bangladeshi Taka 

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