Fifty five years after Tripura demanded access to Bangladesh’s Chittagong Port, the state on Thursday welcomed the first batch of transit cargo of 100 tones at the Akhaura Integrated Check Post (ICP) from Bangladesh. Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb welcomed the cargo with green flag at the ICP and said both India and Bangladesh would benefit from the transit route.
“I thank Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Bangladesh premier Smt. Sheikh Hasina for this initiative. Tripura had a single lifeline of communication by road, which would lead to severe price rise and crises in case it broke down due to landslides in monsoons. But, seven communication lifelines including inland waterways connectivity with Bangladesh have come up in last two years”, Deb said adding that Tripura will become gateway of Northeast as the state will begin sending cargo consignments to Assam for the first time.
The cargo vessel, which started from Haldia Port of West Bengal on July 18, was supposed to arrive three day later at a temporary jetty set up as part of Indo-Bangla inland waterways protocol route connecting Daudkandi of Bangladesh with Sonamura of Sepahijala district, 60 Km from Agartala. The project was changed later as the government claimed it saved Rs 50,000 by bringing in the cargo by road from Bangladesh instead of inland waterways route.
“We curtailed the transit charges from Rs. 6,300 to Rs. 5,800 and could save Rs. 500 for each metric ton goods. Once the Indo-Bangla bridge over River Feni gets commissioned, we shall be able to save Rs. 800 each metric ton goods. It would dramatically enhance scope of employment in Tripura and lessen the price of commodities,” Deb said.
Currently, Tripura exports a list of handful goods and materials worth Rs 30 crores to Bangladesh annually but imports materials worth Rs. 645 crores. The Chief Minister expressed hopes that wih the new transit routes, the state would be able to cut down on the trade deficit and export goods worth Rs. 400 crores and import goods worth Rs. 2000 crores in next one year.
In next five years, Tripura will export Rs. 1200 crores goods and import goods of Rs. 4200 crores, Deb said.
Earlier, Ashuganj river port was used to transport goods for Tripura’s Palatana Power Plant through the Akhaura Land Port during Left Front regime. Both India and Bangladesh had road, rail and water transit routes agreed in 1965 and 1980, which were revised over the years.
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