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B'desh permits India limited transhipment via its port

November 30, 2012 19:56 IST

Bangladesh may let India tranship 35,000 tonnes of food grains through Ashuganj port to Tripura on humanitarian grounds. The decision came after representatives of the two countries met last week in India.

The neighbour has asked India to submit a fresh request for the transhipment, according to the minutes of meeting between the two nations.

"A fresh request may be communicated. Bangladesh may look into the possibilities of the issue of transhipment on humanitarian ground, upon consultation with all relevant stakeholders," the minutes of meeting noted.

The two countries had met to discuss the "Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade" (PIWTT).

At the meeting, the Indian side led by shipping adviser C B Singh, suggested that since three consignments have already operated on trial basis and operators are ready to use their own equipment, Bangladesh should allow transhipment to continue.

Bangladesh said that immediate movement of cargo through Ashuganj is not

feasible as of now due to infrastructure limitations.

India has long been seeking the transit and transhipment facility through Bangladesh territory to carry cargoes to its 'seven-sister' states.

Earlier, Bangladesh allowed India to carry goods to its north-eastern states thrice on a trial basis beginning on September 29, 2011. The transhipment was, however, suspended on October 26, 2011. The neighbour said that shipments will be allowed only after developing the infrastructure at Ashuganj port to the required level.

Since then, India has been pressing Bangladesh for continuation of transhipment of bulk cargoes through Ashuganj port as was agreed in the PIWTT.

In January, a core committee of Bangladesh government on transit and transhipment submitted their final report to its Prime Minister's Office, keeping both the options - transit and transhipment - open for neighbouring countries including India.

The committee identified nine roads, nine rail routes, and five waterways to be used for the transit facility to India and other neighbouring countries.

Syed Tashfin Chowdhury in Dhaka