India, Bangladesh to boost waterways connectivity

Governments of India and Bangladesh have signed several agreements to boost inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two nations for trade and cruise movements

October 25, 2018

An addendum to the ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh has been signed to include Dhubri in India and Pangaon in Bangladesh as new ports of call

Currently 3.5 million tonnes of cargo is transported on protocol routes through inland waterways which is expected to increase after the declaration of new ports of call and extension of protocol routes

India’s northeastern states would get connected to Kolkata and Haldia ports in West Bengal, and with that of Mongla in Bangladesh that which would facilitate movement EXIM cargo at lower costs

Under the US$114 billion Sagarmala initiative, the Indian Government is looking to leverage India’s more than 7,500 km coastline and 14,500 km of inland navigable waterways to boost the economy

On October 25 Governments of India and Bangladesh signed critical deals to boost inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two nations that would increase trade and cruise traffic. India’s shipping secretary, Gopal Krishna, and his Bangladesh counterpart, Md. Abdus Samad, said that the two countries have agreed to use Chattogram and Mongla ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India. Meanwhile, a SOP has been signed for movement of passenger and cruise vessels. Additionally, an addendum to ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh has been signed to include Dhubri in India and Pangaon in Bangladesh as new ports of call.  

The agreements will facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers, aiding trade and tourism. The two sides have also agreed to consider inclusion of Rupnarayan river (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghat in West Bengal as new Port of Call. Meanwhile, Chilmari has been agreed to as a port of call in Bangladesh. The new arrangement will facilitate movement of fly ash, cement, construction materials, among others, from India to Bangladesh through Rupnarayan river. Further, both sides agreed to declare Badarpur on river Barak (NW 16) as an extended port of call of Karimganj in Assam and Ghorasal of Ashuganj in Bangladesh on reciprocal basis.

The Indian side has proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata up to Silchar in Assam. Currently 3.5 million tonnes of cargo is transported on protocol routes through inland waterways which is expected to increase substantially after the declaration of additional ports of call and extension of protocol routes. Under this arrangement, India’s northeastern states would get connected directly to the ports of Kolkata and Haldia in West Bengal, and with that of Mongla in Bangladesh through waterways which would facilitate movement EXIM cargo and would also reduce the logistic costs. Meanwhile, river cruise services are likely to commence between Kolkata – Dhaka – Guwahati – Jorhat and back.

Under the US$114 billion Sagarmala initiative, the Indian Government is looking to leverage India’s more than 7,500 km coastline and 14,500 km of inland navigable waterways. Waterways can potentially revolutionize Indian economy by connecting the remotest parts of the nation, while also operational efficiencies.