Indo-Bangla meeting today: Delhi wants 3 more transshipment points

India wants three more transshipment points in Bangladesh for transporting goods to its north-eastern states, according to the agenda of a bilateral meeting that begins in Dhaka today.

The points are located in Munshiganj’s Muktarpur, Dhaka’s Pangaon and Narayanganj.

India will place the proposal at the two-day shipping secretary-level meeting at the InterContinental Dhaka.

Currently, Ashuganj is being used as the only transshipment point in Bangladesh under the River Protocol signed between the two countries in 2010. India began using the port in June 2016.

Bangladesh Shipping Secretary Abdus Samad told The Daily Star that the proposal would be discussed in the meeting.

“Based on their study, India thinks the three new points will ease the transportation of Indian goods,” he told.

Dhaka and Delhi in 2015 inked a protocol allowing India to use four riverways through Bangladesh, which links Kolkata and Murshidabad to Assam, Tripura and Meghalaya.

Since the Kolkata-Ashuganj-Akhaura river route became operational in June 2016, only 13 cargo vessels have used it so far, paying Bangladesh Tk 28 lakh in transit fees.

Shipping ministry officials said Indian businesses were not using the route regularly as the roads and ports needed to use the waterway were not ready yet.

They said India wants to explore new routes for transporting their goods.

The meeting will also finalise the transit fees for using Chattogram and Mongla Ports by India.

India and Bangladesh signed a MoU on the use of the two ports in 2015 and then signed standard operating procedure (SOP) during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s recent visit in October.

According to the SOP, goods that reach Chattogram and Mongla sea ports will be carried to Agartala (Tripura) via Akhaura; Dawki (Meghalaya) via Tamabil; Sutarkandi (Assam) via Sheola, and Srimantpur (Tripura) via Bibirbazar.

Roads, railways, and waterways in Bangladesh will be used for transporting the goods, he added

Salam said the meeting will discuss the transit fees.

Routes will be finalised once the fee is finalised, he said. Under the SoP, India can use waterways, roads and railways, but they will have to use Bangladeshi vehicles in all the cases.

India also wants Bangladesh to use an Indian port, Visakhapatnam, for export and import of Bangladeshi products, instead of using Singapore.

Earlier, Prime Minister’s Economic Adviser Dr Mashiur Rahman told The Daily Stat that Indian West Coast has a number of ports and if Bangladesh can use those, the dependence on Singapore port would reduce.

India has prepared an 18-point agenda, while Bangladesh has a 15-point agenda to be discussed in the meeting.

The major agendas of Bangladesh include the joint dredging of 74 kilometers of waterways of Padma river and making Nakugaon Land Port in Sherpur fully operational.

Nakugaon port was officially opened in 2015, but the activities are still thin.