The two sides agreed to consider inclusion of Rupnarayanriver (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghatin West Bengal as new Port of Call. Chilmari was agreed to as a port of call in Bangladesh. The new arrangement will facilitate movement of flyash, cement, construction materials etc from India to Bangladesh through IWT on Rupnarayanriver. 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 proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata uptoSilchar in Assam. Currently 3.5 MMT 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. The North Eastern states would get connected to directly to the ports of Kolkata and Haldia in India and Mongla in Bangladesh through waterways which would facilitate movement EXIM cargo and would also reduce the logistic costs.
In another important understanding reached at between the two countries, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on Inland Protocol route and coastal shipping routes have been finalised. These river cruise services are likely to commence between Kolkata – Dhaka – Guwahati – Jorhat and back.
It was also agreed that a Joint Technical Committee will explore the technical feasibility of operationalisation of Dhulian-Rajshahi protocol route upto Aricha. and the reconstruction and opening up of Jangipur navigational lock on river Bhagirathi subject to the provisions of the Treaty between India and Bangladesh on Sharing of Ganga Waters at Farakka,1996. This move has the potential to reduce the distance to Assam by more than 450 kms on the protocol routes.
Prior to the Secretary Shipping level talks held today, the 19th edition of the Standing Committee meeting under ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) between high level delegations of the two countries were held yesterday. The daylong meeting was attended by representatives of Ministries of Shipping, External Affairs, Home, Finance, DONER and Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and officials from Bangladesh belonging to Ministry of Shipping, Board of Revenue, DG (Shipping) and Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA).