India-Bangladesh sign Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol

On May 20, 2020, India and Bangladesh signed the second Addendum of the Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol in Bangladesh.

Highlights

Under the new protocol, the countries can ply on designated protocol route. Also, movement of shallow draft mechanized vessels have been allowed between Dhubri (India) and Chilmari (Bangladesh). This is being considered as path breaking development. This will help in export of Bhutanese cargo, stone chips and North East Cargo to Bangladesh. The step will increase economy of Bangladesh and lower Assam.

Routes

Under the new addendum signed, the number of Indo Bangladesh Protocol routes are being increased from 8 to 10.

Ports

Currently there are 6 ports that are operated under the protocol. Now with the new agreement, five more ports of call have been included. The inclusion of Jogigopha will help in connectivity with Meghalaya, Bhutan and Assam

Significance

The inland water transit is important for India to transport food grains, agricultural products, fertilizers, containerized cargo and cement. The major export cargo from India to Bangladesh is fly ash. India exports around 30 lakh metric tonnes of fly ash to Bangladesh in a year. It is to be noted that recently environmentalists raised concerns of fly ash barges sinking in Hooghly river.

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