Waterways aiding trade growth with Bangladesh

Inland and coastal waterways connectivity between India and Bangladesh has seen a marked increase over the past four years when critical deals were signed to increase bilateral trade and cruise traffic

February 7, 2019

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

Truck shipments sent to Bangladesh from India since October 2017 were numbered at more than 2,130 from the ports in Kolkata and Chennai - a marked increase

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

Under Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN version 3.0, routes linking 6 water aerodrome sites have been awarded to start seaplane and helicopter services

Inland and coastal waterways connectivity between India and Bangladesh has seen a marked increase over the past four years when critical deals were signed to increase bilateral trade and cruise traffic. As a result, truck shipments sent to Bangladesh from India since October 2017 were numbered at more than 2,130 from the ports in Kolkata and Chennai. A coastal shipping agreement was signed between India and Bangladesh in June 2015, with new agreements signed last year. As per the shipping Agreement, sea transport from India to Bangladesh is treated as coastal movement, making it eligible for 40 per cent concession on vessel-related and cargo related charges.  

Meanwhile, Haldia dock complex under the Kolkata port trust has been declared as transshipment port for containerised cargo originating from/destined to Bangladesh to attract more cargo movement through sea-route. Further to enhance the trade, an agreement on the use of Chittagong and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India was signed between the two countries last year. This growth comes amid efforts to explore new avenues for promotion of trade and commerce through coastal shipping. Waterway shipment has also caught on as it offers greener and cheaper means of moving cargo, as compared with road or rail.

As part of activities around waterways development, the Government is also setting up infrastructure to support seaplane services. Under the Regional Connectivity Scheme (RCS) UDAN version 3.0, the routes connecting the following six water aerodrome sites have been awarded to start seaplane and helicopter services:-

  1. Guwahati Riverfront (Assam)
  2. Nagarjuna Sagar (Telangana)
  3. Sabarmati Riverfront (Gujarat)
  4. Shatrunjay Dam (Gujarat)
  5. Statue of Unity (Gujarat)
  6. Umrangso Reservoir (Assam)

So far there is no proposal to start seaplane and helicopter operations on 1,680 km length of Ganga river for passenger transport. Meanwhile, currently 3.5 million tonnes 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. Bilateral agreements between India and Bangladesh will facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers, aiding trade and tourism.

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