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To Northeast, via Bangladesh

Bangladesh IS likely to accept India’s demand for access to its ports for transhipment of goods to the landlocked northeast, reports Syed Sajjad Ali.

india Updated: Feb 18, 2009 14:49 IST
Syed Sajjad Ali

Bangladesh IS likely to accept India’s demand for access to its ports for transhipment of goods to the landlocked northeast.

While the neighbouring country is said to be ready to open the Ashuganj river port on India, officials and business leader here claimed that it had agreed to include at least two ports when the two sides renew and widen the scope of the water transit protocol next month.

“We’ve been demanding access to Chittagong sea port and Ashuganj for transportation of goods from other parts of country,” Tripura Chamber of Commerce and Industry (TCCI) president Mati Lal Debnath said.

Ashuganj would help in transportation of goods from Kolkata and beyond to Agartala and other towns in the region. Ashuganj is 70 km west of Agartala and has a road link with Agartala.

Once Ashuganj is through, India would push for a rail link between Agartala and Akhaura junction in eastern Bangladesh. The seven km stretch will help in transportation of goods from Ashuganj. In return, said observers, Bangladesh could seek access to an India port for trade with Nepal and Bhutan.

The move comes after delegations from various chambers of commerce from the Bangladesh visited Agartala. They said was Tripura was the gateway to expanding trade in the region and even proposed factories there to take advantage of natural gas and incentives being offered by the state government.

The water protocol expires on March 31 and modalities of its renewal had been worked out, an Indian official, who didn’t wish to be identified, said.