New Delhi: India is to sign a long-term treaty with Dhaka for transporting foodgrains to its north-eastern states on a regular basis through inland river waterways via Bangladesh.
The pact, to be inked during the April 20 visit to India of Bangladesh’s Shipping Secretary, will allow cargo movement along waterways for a period of five years. Such a transportation arrangement does exist, but has been valid only for a year or two at a time, and has had to be regularly renewed.
The movement of cargo through inland waterways to the North-East will possibly be through Bangladesh, with Karimganj and Ashuganj as transit points. Due to the poor river draft, movement through Karimganj would be possible only between May and October, while it would be possible round the year through Ashuganj.
“A long-term arrangement will encourage barge companies to invest in such cargo movement,” a Shipping ministry official told Splash. “We are planning to transport around 30,000 tonnes of foodgrains for the public distribution system every month to the North-East, using river waterways.”
Transportation cost on inland waterways is almost 20% lower than by road and rail, and also has much lower carbon emission. Movement through waterways is high on the Indian government’s agenda, with the Cabinet recently approving the enactment of a legislation declaring 101 additional inland waterways as National Waterways (NW) for navigation.