Press Trust of india

India and Bangladesh meeting next month on transit protocol

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Kolkata, Mar 18 :The proposed high-level meeting on the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT) between India and Bangladesh next month is expected to finalise its Standard Operating Procedures (SoP), an official said.

Once the PIWTT SoP is in place, inland waterways will boost trade to the north eastern states and Bangladesh from Kolkata, he said.

“A meeting is expected next month. There is no hurdle as such. A standard operating procedure has to be finalized and the meeting will try to complete that,” Inland Waterways Authority of India Vice-chairman Pravir Pandey told PTI.

The two countries had agreed on the extension of Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT), which was signed in 1972.

The National Waterway one (NW -1) will connect the North East through Indo-Bangla protocol route. It will reduce the distance from about 1,700 km via Siliguri in north Bengal to about 500 km via Bangladesh, he said.

The route will also open up opportunity for Bangladesh trade through Haldia port and lessen congestion at Chittagong port in Bangladesh.

In the protocol route, Rs 3,500 crore dredging project has been undertaken and the cost will be shared at 80:20 between India and Bangladesh.

“In the protocol route, dredging would be required mainly in some stretches under Sirajganj to Doikhawa route on Brahmaputra-Jamuna river in Bangladesh and also under Ashuganj to Karimganj to improve the navigability,” Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority’s Director (Marine safety and Traffic management) Md Shafiqul Haque had said earlier.

India is developing the NW-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project with assistance from the World Bank. The estimated project cost has been revised upward to Rs 5,369 crore from the initial estimation of Rs 4,200 crore, he said.

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