NEW DELHI, Oct 25 - India and Bangladesh have, in an important understanding, finalised the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on the Inland Protocol route and the coastal shipping routes, on Thursday.
These river cruise services are likely to commence between Kolkata-Dhaka-Guwahati-Jorhat and back.
Briefing newsmen here this evening, Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna and his Bangladesh counterpart Md Abdus Samad informed that India and Bangladesh today signed several milestone agreements for enhancing inland and coastal waterways connectivity between the two countries for trade and cruise movements.
The two countries have signed an agreement to use Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from India. The SOP will facilitate movement of passenger and cruise services. In addition to this, an addendum to �Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade� (PIWTT) has been signed for inclusion of Dhubri in India and Pangaon in Bangladesh as new Ports of Call.
These agreements will facilitate easier movement of goods and passengers between the two countries, giving an impetus to trade and tourism, the two officials said.
The two sides agreed to consider inclusion of the Rupnarayan river (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghat in the protocol route and to declare Kolaghat in West Bengal as a new port of call. Chilmari was agreed to as a port of call in Bangladesh.
The new arrangement will facilitate movement of fly ash, cement, construction materials from India to Bangladesh through IWT on the river Rupnarayan.
Further, both sides agreed to declare Badarpur on river Barak (NW-16) as an Extended Port of Call of Karimganj in Assam and Ghorasal of Ashuganj in Bangladesh on reciprocal basis. The Indian side proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata up to Silchar in Assam.
It was also decided that a Project Management Consultant for supervision and monitoring of dredging of Ashuganj-Zakiganj and Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretches of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route in Bangladesh will be engaged with 80 per cent financial contribution from India and the rest by Bangladesh. A joint monitoring committee has also been constituted for overall monitoring of the dredging works.
Both sides have also agreed for development of Jogighopa as a hub-trans-shipment terminal for movement of cargo to Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland and Bhutan and notifying the Munsiganj river terminal by the Bangladesh Customs for routing third-party exim cargo through the Kolkata Port.
Discussions were also held to make the Nakugaon Land Port in Bangladesh and Dalu ICP (India) operational and to connect Gelephu (Bhutan) as a tripartite cross-border route.