Dhaka, Delhi agree to renew water transit protocol for 2 yrs
Reported by: UNB Connect
Reported on: Jul 03, 2012 01:47 pm
Reported in: National
Dhaka, July 3 (UNB) – Bangladesh and India on Tuesday signed a Letter of Exchange agreeing to renew the `Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ between the two countries for another two years -- April 1, 2012 to March 31, 2014.
The agreement renewing the Protocol will be signed within a week.
Shipping Secretary Abdul Mannan Howlader and Shipping Secretary of India PK Sinha signed the letter of exchange for their respective side after a secretary-level meeting at Sonargaon Hotel in the morning.
Speaking on the occasion, Shipping Secretary Abdul Mannan Hawlader said India used to pay Bangladesh Tk 5.5 crore annually for maintaining the river routes, but will now pay Tk 10 crore annually for next two years.
The yearly maintenance covers the routes -- Kolkata-Chandpur-Pandu-Silghat; Kolkata-Chandpur-Karimganj; Silghat-Pandu-Ashuganj-Karimganj; Rajshahi-Dhulian; Doikhawa-Sirajganj; and Karimganj-Sherpur.
Hawlader said India proposed Bangladesh to increase the charge for transit, but the secretary level meeting has decided to hold negotiation between the National Board of Revenue (NBR) and the relevant Indian authority to make a decision in this regard.
“India also agrees to allow port of call for the crew of Bangladeshi vessels in India,” he said.
The Shipping Secretary said India also made a proposal for introducing coastal shipping between the two countries that will benefit both Bangladesh and India.
In this regard, he said a Bangladesh team headed by Director General of Shipping has been formed to negotiate with their Indian counterpart. “If the team finds that coastal shipping will be beneficial for Bangladesh, necessary steps will be taken within next 3-6 months.”
Hawlader said India also assured Bangladesh of providing financial support to the Ashuganj River Port project.
Referring to the Indian government’s pledge, PK Sinha said India is keen to help Bangladesh implement the Ashuganj River Port project. Action will be taken after receiving the feasibility study report on the project.
Shipping Secretary Abdul Mannan Hawlader said India also assured Bangladesh to provide assistance to introducing digital tracking system to avert ship piracy in sea.
Hawlader led an 18-member Bangladesh delegation comprising officials of the NBR and the ministries of Shipping, Home, Commerce, and Foreign Affairs at the secretary level meeting held in Dhaka on Monday. Indian Shipping Secretary PK Sinha led the eight-member Indian team in the meeting.
The Bangladesh-India Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was first signed in New Delhi on March 28, 1972.
The protocol, which is usually extended after two years, expired on March 31, 2012 and remained operative under ad-hoc arrangement from April 1 to July 2. Its renewal was delayed as Bangladesh refused the Indian proposal to extend it for five years.
Under the protocol, the two countries have five ports of call on each side -- Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj and Ashuganj in Bangladesh; and Kolkata, Haldia, Karimganj, Pandu and Silghat in India. A port of call of one side is meant to provide facilities to the vessels of the other.