Inaugural vessel movement paves the way for enhanced India-Bangladesh connectivity

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In an effort to enhance trade and connectivity between India and Bangladesh, the inaugural trial movement of vessels on India Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) Route numbers 5 and 6 is scheduled to occur today, February 12, 2024. The vessels, set to travel between Maia Port in India and Sultanganj Port in Bangladesh, will be officially flagged off by Shantanu Thakur, the Minister of State for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, at Maia Inland Customs Port in West Bengal.

This initiative aligns with the Act East Policy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and signifies the ongoing evolution of India-Bangladesh relations across political, economic, cultural, and strategic domains. The waterway route from Maia (IBP route) to Dhubri (NW-2) via Aricha is anticipated to reduce the distance by approximately 930 kilometres compared to the existing Dhulian-Maia-Kolkata-IBP-Dhubri waterway route. As a result, an estimated 2.6 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA) of export cargo to Bangladesh is expected to transition from road transport to waterways.

The riverine distance between Port of Call Maia in India and Port of Call Sultanganj in Bangladesh spans 16km, with 4.5km of waterways in India and the remaining 11.5km in Bangladesh. Noteworthy attendees at the flagging-off event include transport and state transport ministers from the West Bengal government, the Member of Parliament from Jangipur Lok Sabha constituency, and members of the state legislature from Raghunathganj and Lalgola constituencies, among other dignitaries.

This initiative has its roots in the state visit of Sheikh Hasina, Prime Minister of Bangladesh, to India from September 5-8, 2022, at the invitation of Prime Minister Modi. During the visit, both leaders expressed a commitment to promptly explore direct shipping links and implement riverine services under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade routes 5 and 6 (Dhulian to Rajshahi – extension to Aricha) and 9 and 10 (Daudkandi to Sonamura).

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