The central government’s efforts to enhance connectivity between the North-Eastern region and rest of the country has received a shot in the arm after the Bangladeshi cabinet approved a proposed agreement with India enabling India to use the Chattogram and Mongla ports for goods movement to the North-East.
Md Shafiul Alam, Cabinet Secretary of the Bangladesh government said that the agreement will be effective for five years with a provision of auto-renewal for another five years and either of the countries can cancel it with a prior six-month notice. “The decision is another step in improving the friendly relations between Bangladesh and India”, he added further.
“A draft of the communication network being built for connectivity between the Chattogram and Mongla ports has been approved for India’s signing. One of the provisions says that Nepal and Bhutan can be added to the agreement if they wish,” he said.
The agreement will provide India access to Bangladeshi ports to carry goods to the landlocked North Eastern states in a very short time. Alam said that, however, India would have to follow the international rules and General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATT) as well as Bangladeshi laws and rules in carrying the goods. The agreement suggested that Bangladesh will collect the charges, fees and carrying cost according to GATT principle in addition to regular duty and taxes. Reportedly, only Bangladeshi vehicles and vessels will be used to carry the Indian goods inside Bangladesh.
According to Dhaka Tribune, Four routes were suggested for the goods movements which are – Chittagong Port/ Mongla Port-Agartala via Akhaura, Chittagong/Mongla-Daouki via Tamabil, Chittagong/ Mongla-Sutarkandi via Sheola and Chittagong/Mongla-Bibekbazar via Simantapur.