NEW DELHI: When Tripura received its first consignment of cargo from Kolkata via the Chattogram (Chittagong) port of Bangladesh on Thursday, it marked the revival of a historic route that had been in disuse for over a century.
With the first trial run on this route completed successfully, India is hoping it will mark the beginning of an arrangement that will not only provide better connectivity to the northeast using the maritime route but also prove beneficial to both countries.
“This will reduce the distance, time and cost of logistics for transporting goods and is a win-win situation for both the economies,” remarked an Indian diplomat. The road route between West Bengal to the northeast covers a distance of over 1,200 km. The sea route via Chattogram will reduce the transshipment distance by half.
Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb was there to receive the consignment that was first transported by sea on board MV Shejyoti to Chattogram and then transported to Agartala on trucks.
India described the trial run as a “historic achievement towards strengthening India-Bangladesh maritime and economic partnership” and that the new route “will enhance business services and revenue generation in Bangladesh”.
The use of Chattogram port was made possible under an agreement that allows the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports as transhipment hubs. Eight routes have been identified under this pact. These are: Chittagong port/Mongla port to Agartala via Akhaura; Chattogram port/Mongla port to Dawki via Tamabil; Chattogram port/ Mongla Port to Sutarkandi via Sheola; Chattogram port/Mongla port to Srimantapur via Bibirbazar; Agartala to Chattogram port/Mongla port via Akhaura; Dawki to Chattogram port/Mongla port via Tamabil; Srimantapur to Chattogram port/Mongla Port via Sheola; Bibirbazar to Chattogram port/Mongla port via Srimantapur.
Both sides are optimistic that this will help ongoing efforts to improve bilateral connectivity. Some of the benefits India hopes from this new and shorter route are:
• An additional connectivity route that’s economical and environment-friendly
• States like Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya to get access to a port for transportation of goods
• Lend a fillip to multi-modal connectivity between India and Bangladesh
• Ease stress on supply chains that have been disrupted by the pandemic
India is hopeful that it will benefit Bangladesh in the following ways:
• Fresh investment flow in the logistics sector
• New trade routes are expected to generate employment and give a fillip to transport, finance and insurance.
• Generate revenue by way of administrative and port-related fees
• Lead to economic transformation of cities such as Cumilla, Tamabil and Akhaura as well.