Union Minister of State for Shipping (In-Charge), Mansukh Mandaviya on November 25th, 2019, said the alternate water route to the Northeast will boost economic development in the region.
In a written reply to a question in the Rajya Sabha today, the minister said, “There are eight routes provided under the Agreement signed between India and Bangladesh in 2017 which would enable access of Northeast region via Bangladesh. These identified routes allow entry/exit to Agartala and Srimantpur in Tripura, Dawki in Meghalaya and Sutarkandi in Assam, and hence the alternate transport connectivity would boost huge Economic Development in the NER.”
Mandaviya stated that a Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) exists between India and Bangladesh since 1972. “Under this protocol, Inland Vessels of one country can pay on the designated Waterways routes of another country. There are specified inland water routes and an equal number of Ports of call in each country for Exim trade through the Inland Water Transport (IWT). The said protocol is valid up to June 5th, 2020 with a provision of automatic renewal after 5 years,” he added.
The Northeastern states are connected with the mainland through Inland waterways of Brahmaputra (NW-2) and Barak (NW-16) with Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hoogly river system (NW-1) via Sunderbans (NW-97) through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route.
For strengthening round the year navigation on Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route, Mandaviya informed the House that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between India and Bangladesh on April 8th, 2017 for fairway development of Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretch of Jamuna river and Ashuganj-Zakiganj stretch of Kushiyara river in Bangladesh. “The estimated cost of the project is Rs 305.84 crore on a cost-sharing ratio of 80:20 between India and Bangladesh,” he added.
Photo credit: @mansukhmandviy