Agartala, Oct 7 (IANS): India would develop a river port in Bangladesh to ferry essentials, foodgrain and heavy machinery to northeast region from different parts of the country and abroad, an Indian diplomat said here Tuesday.
"To develop the Ashuganj port over river Meghna, India would provide necessary funds. Both northeastern states of India and Bangladesh would be benefited if the river port's necessary infrastructures were developed," India's Deputy High Commissioner in Dhaka Sandeep Chakravorty told reporters.
He said: "The WAPCOS (Water, Power Consultancy Services Limited) is preparing a DPR (Detailed Project Report) to develop the port."
WAPCOS, under the union ministry of water resources, offers consultancy services in all facets of water resources, power and infrastructure sectors in India and abroad.
Ashuganj port over river Meghna in eastern Bangladesh is around 40 km from Tripura capital Agartala.
Chakravorty said that the Bangladesh government is also keen to provide access of Chittagong international port to India.
"Both Indian and Bangladesh governments are serious (about developing) connectivity between the two countries," he said.
India has taken the first steps to construct an Rs.70 crore ($11.5 million) bridge over the Feni river in Tripura to access Bangladeshi ports for transporting goods and heavy machinery from other parts of the country to the landlocked northeast and to boost trade and tourism.
The Tripura government has asked a New Delhi-based private company to prepare a DPR to construct the bridge.
The Northeast Frontier Railway (NFR) too has started preliminary work to extend its network up to the Bangladeshi border town and railway station of Akhaurah, just six km from the Agartala railway station.
The Indian deputy high commissioner in Dhaka during his four-day visit to Tripura would visit Sabroom in southern Tripura to study the progress of ground work about the construction of proposed bridge.
He would also visit Akhaurah, just two km away from Agartala city, to personally look at the actual work on 15 km long Agartala-Akhaurah rail link.
Transportation via Bangladesh is much easier as surface connectivity is a key factor for the mountainous northeastern region, which is surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China.
There is only a narrow land corridor to the northeastern states from India through Assam and West Bengal but this route passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends.
For instance, Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata and 2,637 km from New Delhi, while the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just about 350 km.
In a first, a 5,000 tonne consignment of rice, of a total of 10,000 tonnes, carried in small ships from Kakinada port in Andhra Pradesh reached Ashuganj port in eastern Bangladesh via Kolkata Aug 5. From Ashuganj, Bangladeshi trucks carried the rice to Food Corporation of India warehouses in Nandannagar near Agartala.
In 2012, Bangladesh had allowed India's state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and weighty cargo through Ashuganj for the 726 MW Palatana mega power project in southern Tripura.