India has begun trial runs for the trans-shipment of goods to its northeastern states, using two key land ports in Bangladesh – Tamabil of Sylhet and Bibir Bazar of Cumilla.
Under the trial, a vessel named MV Rishad Raihan, which had left Kolkata on 1 August carrying two Indian transit containers, anchored at Mongla seaport on Monday.
After the seaport formalities, one of the containers was taken to Meghalaya using the Tamabil-Dawki route yesterday, while the other awaits transportation through Bibir Bazar-Srimantapur, reports our Sylhet correspondent.
Customs Commissioner Mohammad Akbar Hossain, Indian Assistant High Commissioner in Sylhet Niraj Kumar Jaiswal, and Bangladesh Assistant High Commissioner in Guwahati Shah Mohammad Tanvir were present at Tamabil yesterday when the container vehicle crossed the border.
"The trans-shipment is a milestone for both Bangladesh and India. With this collaboration, we hope our bilateral relations and economic ties will further be strengthened," Mohammad Akbar Hossain told reporters.
The trial runs were initially scheduled for July, but were pushed to August in order to enable Bangladeshi authorities to complete certain arrangements, including customs procedures.
The development comes ahead of a planned visit to India by Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina in the first week of September, reports Hindustan Times.
Announcing the start of trial runs for operationalising a bilateral agreement signed in October 2018 for the transit of goods from India via Chattogram and Mongla ports in Bangladesh, the Indian high commission in Dhaka said the vessel carrying two Indian transit containers had arrived at Mongla port on Monday.
The vessel with cargo bound for the northeastern states was subsequently flagged off by Mongla Port Authority Chairman Mohammed Musa, and India's Assistant High Commissioner in Khulna Inderjit Sagar.
The trial runs are being undertaken by Maersk India and are done on two routes – Mongla-Tamabil-Dawki and Mongla-Bibir Bazar-Srimantapur. After being transported by riverine routes in Bangladesh, the goods will enter India through border checkpoints at Dawki in Meghalaya and Srimantapur in West Bengal.
These two routes are among eight approved routes for transit of goods under the 2018 agreement.
India had earlier carried out a trial trans-shipment of goods from Kolkata to Tripura via Chattogram port in southeastern Bangladesh in July 2020.
The land route between Kolkata and key cities in northeast states is more than 1,200km and the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for trans-shipment will cut the distance to almost half. The trans-shipment arrangement will facilitate the movement of heavier cargo at a lower cost.
Indian Oil to transport fuel via Bangladesh
Meanwhile, Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) said it will also conduct a trial run soon for transporting fuel to the Indian state of Tripura through Bangladesh, reports The Economic Times.
During the trial run, IOC will transport three LPG tankers and seven tankers of petrol and diesel through Bangladesh from Guwahati.
The fuel-carrying tankers from Guwahati in Assam will go to Dwaki in Meghalaya, where they will enter Bangladesh. The tankers will re-enter India at Kailashahar in Tripura's Unakoti district to reach IOC's Dharmangar depot in North Tripura. Each LPG tanker can transport 17 mt of gas, while each oil tanker has the capacity of carrying 12,000 litres.
"IOC has already signed an agreement with the Bangladeshi authorities in Dhaka on 3 August. We have sought visas for the drivers and their assistants to drive the tankers through the neighbouring country," a senior IOC official told the Press Trust of India.
"Once the visas are issued, the LPG and oil tankers will move for the trial run on the alternative road via Bangladesh. We are absolutely ready for this. The process for the trial run has been initiated. If the trial run is successful, IOC will use the alternative road to supply fuel to Tripura in case of unforeseen developments in the future," the official added.