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regular-article-logo Friday, 21 June 2024

Contract to spur riverine transport

A tender, valued at about Rs 200 crore, will be floated by the authority to dredge the Indo Bangla Protocol Route and maintain a minimum water depth of 2.5 meters to allow barges loaded with cargo to move from Calcutta to Bangladesh and onwards to Northeast

Sambit Saha Calcutta Published 14.09.22, 01:10 AM
The sanction from the IWAI comes shortly after the four-day visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India where the two neighbouring countries decided to reinforce economic co-operation.

The sanction from the IWAI comes shortly after the four-day visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India where the two neighbouring countries decided to reinforce economic co-operation. Representational picture

Inland Water Authority of India (IWAI) has decided to offer a three-year contract to develop and maintain fairways on the Gangetic plains and Indo-Bangla Protocol Route, promising a major fillip to cargo movement by the river to the Northeast and Bangladesh.

A tender, valued at about Rs 200 crore, will be floated by the authority to dredge the Indo Bangla Protocol Route and maintain a minimum water depth of 2.5 meters to allow barges loaded with cargo to move from Calcutta to Bangladesh and onwards to Northeast.

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In the second phase, the upgradation of the inland waterways in the Gangetic plains will be done.

The sanction from the IWAI comes shortly after the four-day visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India where the two neighbouring countries decided to reinforce economic co-operation.

Following the trip, she announced plans to host a meeting involving the chief ministers of seven northeastern Indian states in Dhaka soon.

Against this backdrop, the proposed upgradation of the protocol routes assumes significance as they provide alternative access to landlocked NE states to carry out trade and business through multimodal or riverine channels across Bangladesh with mainland India and the world.

“Cargo volume on the treaty routes is growing at an 11per cent CAGR for the last five years. This is a huge success. We used to only send fly ash before, now a lot of commodities — wheat, rice, sponge iron — are moving from here,” Vinit Kumar, chairman of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, formerly Calcutta Port Trust, said.

Speaking at the CII East India Summit, Kumar pointed out that trial runs to the Northeast have been successful and the trouble spots which needed attention have been identified. With barges going regularly all the way upto Sirajgunj in Bangladesh, two-thirds of the 1,300-kilometre distance from Calcutta to Pandu in Assam are already well navigated.

With IWAI pouring in funds, it is expected the barge movement from Calcutta to Pandu and Dhuburi in Assam, the home state of Union shipping minister Sarbananda Sonowal, would become a regular feature.

Moreover, the southern parts of Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram will be accessed from Calcutta via Chittagong and Mongla ports.

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