Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said on Thrusday that Indian and Bangladesh officials will finalise various aspects of a proposed waterway between the two countries.
“Union Shipping Ministry officials have informed that senior authorities from both the countries, including from the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), will visit Tripura on January 28-29. The officials would finalise different issues of the proposed waterway between the two countries involving Tripura,” Deb told IANS.
He said that construction works to develop the 35 km waterway between Tripura’s Gomati river and Meghna river in Bangladesh is slated to begin next month.
“The project works were delayed due to the parliamentary elections in Bangladesh,” said Deb.
“After the development of the new waterway, movement of vessels and cruises would be possible to ferry people and goods. It would promote trade, tourism and people to people contact.”
A four-member IWAI team visited Tripura’s Sonamura last month to select the site for a terminal building.
The famous Akhaura canal, built by the erstwhile kings of the princely Tripura, was earlier used to ferry goods to-and-from Bangladesh by boats and small vessels.
“After the partition of India, the transportation through the Akhaura canal was stopped,” Salil Debbarma, a veteran writer, told IANS.
The Indian Oil Corporation in 2016 had ferried diesel and cooking gas to Tripura from Assam via Bangladesh.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) had transported 23,000 tonnes of rice in three phases since 2014 from Kolkata to Tripura via Bangladesh using Dhaka’s Ashuganj River Port, which is about 50 km from Tripura.
In 2012, Bangladesh had allowed state-owned Oil and Natural Gas Corporation to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and over-dimensional cargoes through Ashuganj port for the 726 MW Palatana Mega Power Project in southern Tripura.
According to the Union Shipping Ministry, out of the 111 National Waterways, 20 are in land-locked northeastern region, mostly in Assam.
There are 54 rivers flowing between India and Bangladesh.