The Telegraph
Monday , July 28 , 2014
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Andhra rice takes a 1300km short cut to Tripura as Dhaka allows use of its rivers

Agartala, July 28 (PTI) : Food Corporation of India expects huge savings in time and money after Bangladesh allowed the use of its Ashuganj river port 37km from here for a consignment of food grain meant for the north eastern state of Tripura.

Tripura’s chief secretary S.K. Panda said FCI had sent 5,000 tonnes of food grain from Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh to Kolkata port, from where it was shipped to Ashuganj using Bangladesh’s river system.

At Ashuganj, the consignment will be loaded into Bangladesh trucks that will take it straight into FCI godowns in Tripura.

”FCI officials informed that the consignment of foodgrains have reached Ashuganj port. Unloading of the foodgrains and transportation by trucks for Tripura would be started after the Eid festival on Tuesday,” Panda said.

Tripura transport minister Manik De thanked Bangladesh for allowing the use of its waterways, pointing out that it had cut down the distance from 1650km to 350km.

Earlier, such consignments had to travel through the so-called chicken’s neck in north Bengal to Lumding in Assam via broad gauge railway line, and then transhipped into the narrow gauge to Tripura.

"Unloading and reloading is a difficult problem and landslides often create transportation problems,” De said.

The ministry of external affairs had given its clearance for the movement of Bangladeshi trucks up to Agartala, and truck scanners had been installed at the Akhaura checkpost.

“We have also made arrangements for proper escort of Bangladesh trucks along with drivers up to the warehouse and during the return journey,” he said.

”We had long been asking the central government to take up with Bangladesh for allowing their soil and water for transport of goods to Tripura and there is no denying the fact that the central government has taken up the matter with the neighbouring country on several occasions,” the minister said.

Another consignment of 5,000 tonnes would be transported to the state as a pilot initiative by FCI to check the feasibility of transporting 10,000 tonnes of rice to the north eastern states via Bangladesh, FCI officials said.

After successful transportation of 10,000 tonnes of rice, the Union government was expected to ask Bangladesh to allow 35,000 tonnes of food grain to be transported to Tripura annually, they said.

Earlier, Bangladesh allowed Oil & Natural Gas Corp to carry over-dimensional machines for the Palatana mega power project in Gomati district by using the waterways and roadways of Bangladesh, FCI officials said.