India proposes six new river routes in transit protocol

Aims to connect Ctg, Mongla ports

Syful Islam | Published: October 05, 2018 13:16:44 | Updated: October 06, 2018 10:16:27

Picture used for representational purpose — Collected

The neighbouring India has proposed including six new river routes in the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) to facilitate Indo-Bangla trade further through waterways, officials said.

Presently, there are eight river routes through which cargos are carried between Bangladesh and India.

Officials said the new routes India proposed are meant to connect Chittagong and Mongla port under the protocol as recently Bangladesh cabinet decided to allow New Delhi to use the two seaports.

However, business people said connecting the Chittagong port under the protocol through inland waterways is not possible.

They said to connect Chittagong port a vessel also needs to ply through sea water, which the small-sized inland water vessels have no capacity.

Managing director of Gulf Orient Seaways Ltd Sk Mahfuz Hamid told the FE inland water vessels are only fit for plying through inner water, not the sea water.

"The inland vessels are suitable for shallow draft while coastal vessels are for deep draft. If a deep draft vessel loads at the Chittagong port, it won't be able to ply through river routes due to draft restrictions," he said.

Mr Hamid also said the new routes connecting the Chittagong and the Mongla port will need sea-going vessels or coastal vessels, which cannot ply through inland waterways.

"So, the new routes are not feasible because you can't synchronise sea protocol with the inland protocol," he added.

He also said Chittagong port is already listed among the seven ports of call in the bilateral coastal shipping protocol.

'What India can do is to use the Chittagong port under the coastal shipping agreement to carry goods to its seven sister states," he noted.

Officials at the ministry of shipping told the FE India will raise the issue at the shipping-secretary level meeting to be held later this month.

They said Bangladesh is unlikely to show interest to include the proposed new routes in the protocol.

People familiar with the situation said New Delhi also wants to include two more rivers such as Bangladesh's Gumti River and Indian Hora River in the protocol.

A senior shipping ministry official said the inclusion of the Gumti River may not be possible since charland developed in the in many points.

Besides, many low height bridges were built in various parts of the river, which will hamper the movement of vessels, he said.

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