The first ever a cargo ship anchored at Narayangonj river port carrying stones aggregates from Bhutan as alternative to land route so far used through Indian territory. The ship with Bhutanese cargo set sail from Dhubri, in Assam and arrived at Narayanganj on July 17.
An inaugural ceremony was held at Narayanganj on Thursday, the High Commission of India said.
Bdnews24 adds: Indian High Commissioner Riva Ganguly Das, Bhutanese Ambassador Sonam T Rabgye along with Vice Chairman of Bashundhara Group SafwanSobhan received the first-ever consignment through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route.
The ship, MV AAI of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), was digitally flagged off by Mansukh Mandaviya, Indian Minister of State for Shipping, on July 12.
The ship then sailed from Dhubri in Assam and travelled to Narayanganj over the river Brahmaputra.
Dhubri was declared a port of call in October 2018.The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 kilometres from Dhubri jetty.
Until now, Bhutan has been exporting a significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through the land route. The ship is carrying 1000 metric tons of stones – over 50 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road.
Indian Minister of State for Shipping Mandaviya said the development is a “historic” one, taking ahead the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote cargo transportation through inland waterways.
He said that the move will be beneficial to India, Bhutan and Bangladesh, and that it will strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries.
He said transport of cargo through this route will cut short travel time by 8 to 10 days, and reduce transportation cost by 30 percent, bringing down logistics costs. It will also be a more environment friendly mode of transport.
Mandaviya also said this will also open up an alternate route to India’s northeastern states, making it easier and cheaper to reach goods to these places from other parts of the country.
The chairman of IWAI said capital dredging has been carried out to maintain an assured draft in the navigation channel. Maintenance dredging will be carried out as required.
The Indian government is also taking initiatives to increase the use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment, the high commission said.
Dredging of the Ashuganj-Jakiganj route is also under way under the India-Bangladesh Fairway Development project.