"Initiatives have been taken to bring the essential commodities, including fuel and foodgrains, by using the waterways of Bangladesh through Ashuganj port on the river Meghna," Tripura Revenue and PWD Minister Badal Chowdhury told reporters here.
Chowdhury said the Assam-Agartala National Highway (NH-8) is almost closed due to damage along a 20-km stretch at Lowepoia in Karimganj district of bordering Assam due to rainfall and water-logging. Hundreds of trucks have been stranded for almost a month, making it difficult to transport supplies to Tripura.
The consignments will be shipped from Kolkata port to Bangladesh's Ashuganj port, which is just 50 kms from here. He said IOC and FCI have taken initiatives following Tripura government's repeated request to the Centre to transport the commodities through Bangladesh.
The revised Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol (IWTTP) with the provision of third-country access was formally inaugurated on June 16 by Bangladesh Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan. He inaugurated the transit facility at Ashuganj port.
Tripura Chief Minister Manik Sarkar, in a meeting with PWD Minister Chowdhury, officials of IOC, FCI, Railways, PWD and transport departments on Friday last, asked them to take initiative to transport the essential goods through the neighbouring country. Bangladesh allowed FCI to transport 35,000 tonnes of rice in 2015.
Now with formal inauguration, Indian goods are entering Tripura through Bangladesh by using the Ashuganj port on River Meghna.
"A shipment of 1,005 tonnes of iron rods arrived here on Sunday through Ashuganj river port in Brahmanbaria district of Bangladesh. This was possible because of the revised IWTTP with the provision of third country," Manager of the Land Port Authority of India (LPAI) and In-charge of Agartala-Akhaura Integrated check post, Debasish Nandy, told PTI.
"Now many more consignments of goods will enter Tripura by using the waterways of Bangladesh through Ashuganj port. A consignment of pulses will reach here soon. For transshipment of iron rods, the rural development department of Tripura government had to pay tax at the rate of Rs 192 per tonne," Nandy said.
The protocol was signed during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Dhaka in June last year. Earlier, as a goodwill gesture in 2012, Bangladesh allowed India to carry over-sized and heavy machines for India's Palatna power project by using this water route and Ashuganj port free of cost.