Export and import traders of India and Bangladesh Tuesday demanded a trial run on River Gomati this month itself to operationalise the first Indo-Bangla riverine protocol route of Tripura that connects 90 km of waterbody between Tripura’s Sipahijala district and Daudkandi of Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, a high-level team of Bangladeshi officials today surveyed the riverine protocol route but didn’t meet Indian officials during the tour.
The Sonamura-Daudkandi route was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes that was signed between High Commissioner of India to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das and Bangladesh Shipping Secretary Md. Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury in Dhaka on May 20.
Speaking to reporters after a discussion on trade benefits of Sonamura River Port to Daudkandi Port, All Tripura Merchant Association general secretary Sujit Roy said they have had a discussion with Bangladesh traders on issues of exporting and importing goods through the riverine route and proposed a trial run to expedite the operationalisation process.
“We had some issues that we brought to the attention of administrative officials here. We are confident that importing goods through waterways will reduce transportation cost and benefit everyone in our country. We thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Bangladesh premier Sheikh Hasina and Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb for initiating this protocol route. A trial run should be held in this route within this month to expedite the process,” Roy said.
On July 4 this year, Tripura launched a floating jetty on River Gomati as part of the Indo-Bangla international inland waterways connectivity project. According to plan, small boats and ferries capable of carrying 50 ton goods would start moving through this route to Bangladesh soon and via the neighboring soul, to rest of India and beyond.
Speaking to indianexpress.com, Sonamura Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Subrata Majumder said the export-import traders demanded to extend loading and unloading time of goods at Srimantapur Land Custom Station (LCS) in the vicinity, proposed a trial run of the protocol route and discussed its prospects while Bangladeshi traders, who interacted with their Indian counterparts through video conferencing, sought to import more Indian goods through Sonamura LCS including readymade garments, cosmetic products etc.
The official also informed that a high-level team of Bangladesh government today surveyed their part of Sonamura-Daudkandi protocol route. Out of the 90-km stretch of the route, 89.5 km is in Bangladesh while merely 500 meters is on the Indian side.
“They held the survey and went back. They didn’t hold discussions with any Indian officials”, the SDM informed.
Currently, Tripura exports a handful goods and materials worth Rs. 30 crore to Bangladesh annually but imports materials worth Rs. 645 crore. After the floating jetty was launched at Sonamura for the riverine protocol route in July this year, Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb had expressed hopes that with new transit routes, the state would be able to cut down on the trade deficit and export goods worth Rs. 400 crore and import goods worth Rs. 2000 crore in next one year.
He predicted that Tripura would be able to export Rs 1200 crore goods and import goods of Rs. 4200 crore within five years.
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