Why in news?
- The Standing Committee on the Protocol and the Shipping Secretary level Talks are the institutional arrangements between the two friendly neighbors to discuss and make the Protocol more effective.
- During the discussions between India and Bangladesh at these meetings held in October, 2018 in New Delhi and in December, 2019 in Dhaka, key decisions were taken on the extension of protocol routes, inclusion of new routes and declaration of new Ports of Call to facilitate trade between the two countries.
- The number of Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes are being increased from 8 to 10 and new locations are also added to the existing routes.
- These decisions have been made effective with the signing of 2nd Addendum to the Protocol on 20th May 2020.
Background of India-Bangladesh Inland Water Transit
- People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Republic of India have a long standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways of both countries.
- This Protocol, which was first signed in 1972 (immediately after independence of Bangladesh), is a reflection of shared history and friendship between the two countries.
- It was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years giving long term assurance to various stakeholders.
- The existing protocol routes include Kolkata-Pandu-Kolkata, Kolkata-Karimganj – Kolkata, Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi and Pandu-Karimganj-Pandu.
- The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) which came into existence on 27th October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation is the competent Authority on Indian Side.
Details of Places Added and Changes made
- Inclusion of Sonamura- Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining States.
- The operationalization of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routes and their extension up to Aricha will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh.
- Inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan. Jogigopha also becomes important, since, a Multimodal Logistics Park is proposed to be established there.
- As a path-breaking development, both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels.
- Inland vessels of both the countries can ply on the designated protocol route and dock at Ports of Call in each country, notified for loading/unloading of cargo.