India looks to provide fresh impetus to ties with Dhaka with waterways, vaccine

9 months ago 28
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NEW DELHI: India Thursday operationalized the Daukandi (Bangladesh) – Sonamura (Tripura) Inland Waterway Protocol route calling it another milestone in bilateral ties with Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi vessel MB Premier carrying cement started from Daukandi on September 03, 2020 and will reach Sonamura on September 05, 2020, traversing 93 km along the river Gumti, said the MEA in a statement.
This would be the first ever export consignment from Bangladesh to Tripura through the inland waterways. The cargo would be received at Sonamura in the presence of the chief minister of Tripura,

Biplab Kumar Deb

, and India’s High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das.
The operationalization of this new protocol route, besides further facilitating overall bilateral trade with Bangladesh, is expected to provide an economical, faster, safer and environment friendly mode of transport and result in substantial economic benefits to local communities on both sides.
Amid reports of a Chinese outreach to Bangladesh, India has been proactively working with

Dhaka

to provide fresh impetus to its own ties with the eastern neighbour. Bangladesh was the first country which foreign secretary

Harsh Shringla

recently visited since the Covid-19 lockdown was implemented in March.
During his visit, Shringla had briefed

Sheikh Hasina

about  India’s efforts for

vaccine development

and said that Bangladesh will be accorded priority when vaccine is produced. As reports in Bangladesh media said, he said that the testing for 3 vaccines was at different stages and that India would launch a "massive production exercise once concurrence was received from its scientific community". Shringla had highlighted the "cost advantage that India enjoys due to its economies of scale in manufacturing".
India has also provided Covid-related medical assistance to Bangladesh.
"The issue of COVID-19 vaccine was discussed between both sides during the recent visit of Foreign Secretary to Dhaka. As a close neighbour and strategic partner, we have assured the Bangladesh side that Bangladesh will get high priority in supply of vaccine, once ready. We are glad to note that enterprises on both sides are also taking steps towards this end," said MEA spokesperson

Anurag Srivastava
The Protocol for Inland Water Trade & Transit (PIWTT) was signed between India and Bangladesh in 1972 to provide inland waterways connectivity between the two countries, particularly with the northeastern Region of India and also to enhance bilateral trade.
"In the last one year, approx. 3.5 MMT of cargo was transported between India and Bangladesh on the protocol routes. The scope of PIWTT has been further expanded by the signing of the 2nd Addendum to PIWTT on May 20, 2020 with the inclusion of additional routes and ports of calls. The inclusion of Sonamura - Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river (93 km) as a new route in the Protocol will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh’s economic centers and will help the hinterland of both the countries," it said in a statement.

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