India, Bangladesh sign crucial transhipment deal

India and Bangladesh on Tuesday signed a crucial deal to allow Indian heavy equipment to be transhipped to its landlocked north-eastern Tripura state for a proposed power plant through Bangladeshi territory, officials said.

Updated: Dec 01, 2010, 00:17 AM IST

Dhaka: India and Bangladesh on Tuesday signed
a crucial deal to allow Indian heavy equipment to be
transhipped to its landlocked north-eastern Tripura state for
a proposed power plant through Bangladeshi territory,
officials said.
Roads & Highways chief engineer Azizur Rahman and
India`s Oil and Natural gas Corporation`s senior adviser R K
Madan signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) which would
allow India to transport heavy equipment for its proposed
Palatana Power Plant in Tripura in 96 consignments through
Bangladesh.

Shipping Minister Shahjahan Khan and senior officials
of shipping, communication and foreign ministries and Indian
High Commission in Dhaka witnessed the signing of the MoU at
the shipping ministry conference room this evening.

"Under the MoU the Indian equipment would start
reaching at Ashuganj river port from where these would be
transported overland to Tripura in trucks," shipping secretary
Abdul Mannan Hawladar told PTI after the signing ceremony.

The development came six months after Dhaka and New
Delhi signed an agreement declaring Ashuganj as a new `port of
call` for transport of Indian heavy consignments for their
Palatana Power Project in line with an earlier decision taken
during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina`s maiden India tour in
January this year.
With the signing of the agreement the northern
Ashuganj became the second transhipment point and fifth port
of call in Bangladesh while New Delhi in a reciprocal step
declared their Shilghat as port of call on the Indian side.

"India will tranship its equipment through
Bangladesh in 96 consignments using 30 big sized ferries and
trucks. Tripura Power Company will offer service charge to
Bangladesh under the 1932 Tax and VAT Act," Hawladar said.

Another senior official familiar with the process
said Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) would
weigh and unload the Indian goods at the Ashuganj while the
equipment would be carried to frontier Sultanpur adjoining
Tripura.

The overland transportation would be done in between
12 midnight and 6 am in trucks with a speed limit of five
kilometres only and the entire process of the transshipment
would be completed in five months to be completed in May 2012.

They said since 1980s New Delhi sought to use Ashuganj
as a transshipment point as it was only 49 kilometres off the
Tripura border the river port is navigable throughout the year
while Bangladesh also expected huge revenues from the
facility.

"Bangladesh will recall ever the particularly the
support of the people Tripura to our 1971 Liberation War.
Now Sheikh Hasina`s government has extended its hands
for the development of India`s `seven sisters` including
Tripura and we hope India will reciprocate the move," the
shipping minister told the signing ceremony.

PTI