In order to ship goods from Kolkata to northeastern Indian states, the ‘chicken’s neck’ or the 22-km wide Siliguri corridor is the only land-based connection which can be used. However, with the strengthening of India’s maritime ties with neighboring Bangladesh, the goods are easily being transported through the Chattogram (Chittagong) Port now.
The first trial container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram port was launched by the Shipping Minister Mansukh Madaviya on July 16.
Termed as a historic move, this sea route will open a new chapter in the India-Bangladesh maritime relations by allowing use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for transit of goods from India.
Vineet Kumar, Chairman of Syama Prasad Mukherjee Port in Kolkata calls it the extension of the Look-East policy of the government.
“This has the potential of cutting down the logistic cost and providing better transit service. We are very thankful to the government of Bangladesh and the Chattogram Port authorities for allowing the Indian cargo to pass through their territory”, he said.
He further said it will reduce distance and cost in the transportation of goods to connect India’s North-East Region through Bangladesh.
“It is a good relation between the two countries. They are allowing both the ports (Chattogram and Mongla Port) for discharge of Indian transit cargo and taking it to north-eastern states. As per the treaty, we can use Bangladesh waters and our ships can go directly up to Dibrugarh, Pandu and other terminals in Assam and connect it to Kolkata” Kumar said.
“Syama Prasad Mukherjee Port now intends to become a hub for inland waterways and regional hub for trade with eastern and northeastern states and Eastern and South-Eastern countries and specifically our neighbours Like Bangladesh, Nepal and Myanmar” he added.
In recent years, India and Bangladesh have improved cooperation in shipping and water trade. Cruise services are already active between the two nations to promote tourism.