India-Bangladesh trade begins through waterways

After years of suspension of trade with Bangladesh by waterways, it augurs well for the people of Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur that it has begun again. The previous governments at the Centre and Assam have been dragging their feet on this vital issue to resume trade with Bangladesh; and this has been held up mainly due to the silting of the river bed of the Barak and the Kushiara as well as unfavourable political setup under the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) government at Dhaka. Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government has laid emphasis on promoting and strengthening trade ties of the Northeast region with the Sheikh Hasina Government by exploring the land, rail and waterway channels. Dredging of Barak and Kushiara was initiated during the ‘Navami Barak Festival’.

After Karimganj was identified as the epicentre of trade in the Northeast region, a cement-laden mini ship from Bangladesh sailed to Karimganj and anchored at Steamer Ghat recently to the hearty welcome of the people of the border town. This could be possible due to the navigational facility on the rivers of Barak and Kushiara. According to information, from upstream Bhanga — 15 km from Karimganj — to Gayukata in Bangladesh, lack of navigational facility in the rivers of both the countries during the dry season stood in the wAfter years of suspension of trade with Bangladesh by waterways, it augurs well for the people of Barak Valley, Tripura, Mizoram and Manipur that it has begun again. The previous governments at the Centre and Assam have been dragging their feet on this vital issue to resume trade with Bangladesh; and this has been held up mainly due to the silting of the river bed of the Barak and the Kushiara as well as unfavourable political setup under the BNP (Bangladesh Nationalist Party) government at Day of movement of ships.

Both India and Bangladesh being keen for trade, dredging has been taken up on both sides — Barak and Kushiara in the valley and Meghana in Bangladesh — to facilitate the movement of ships. The Modi government is sharing 80 per cent expenditure on dredging in Bangladesh. It is significant that Barak has been declared as National Waterways-6. Not only exporters and importers of India but also people in general expect better impact on the economy of Northeast for its manifold benefits. The transportation cost will be appreciably less than that of the land and rail. This will keep prices of imported goods affordable. For instance, the supply of 2,500 bags of cement from Bangladesh is expected to keep the price of cement competitively less.