New trade routes to India’s northeastern states via Bangladesh are underway

India is exploring new routes for shipping cargo to its northeastern states by using ports in Bangladesh as transshipment hubs. Attempts are underway to bring Bangladeshi goods to Indian ports – particularly Kolkata – and then shipped to export markets from there.

Two ports in Bangladesh – Mongla and Chattogram (Chittagong) – are operated as possible transit hubs. This means that the goods will be shipped from Kolkata Port (Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port) to these two ports and from there they will be shipped by road to Indian States, Assam (the lower Assam region), Meghalaya, Mizoram and Tripura.

The move is expected to cut travel time by nearly half and costs by almost a fifth. According to carriers, travel to the Northeastern states via the “Chicken’s Neck” region – also called the Siliguri Corridor – takes at least 9-12 days; and this includes 10-15% property damage due to road conditions.

On the other hand, the movement of goods, partly by water and partly by road, is a six to eight day process (three days from Kolkata to a port in Bangladesh and another 3 to 4 days for the movement to the NOT).

A trial for such transhipment was carried out before the pandemic, and four more – Mongla to Tamabil, Tamabil to Chittagong, Chittagong to Sheola and Mongla to Bibirbazar (all in Bangladesh) – are underway at the moment, sources in the ports of the Union, Ministry of Navigation and Waterways said.

A problem which then arose was that of the return of cargoes from the North-East or from Bangladesh, the ships returning empty. According to Vinit Kumar, Chairman of Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port Trust, talks have also been initiated to bring Bangaldeshi goods to Kolkata and then export them from here.


“Syama Port Prasad Mookerjee in Kolkata has partnered with Maersk Line India for the Mongla to Tamabil and Mongla to Bibirbazar trials. For trials from Chittagong to Sheola and another from Tamabil to Chittagong, we partnered with CJ Darcl Logistics. Trials are ongoing,” he said. Activity area.

According to Kumar, Tata Steel sends TMT bars, 25 MT, from Kolkata to Silchar to Assam using Chittagong port and then through Sheola-Sutarkhandi LCS border points. The container, Trans Samudera — VSTU2031090 — on the way back will carry tea from Tamabil to Chittagong. The Dawki (in India) – Tamabil LCS route will be used to bring the cargo to the port of Chittagong and from there to Kolkata.

Final report end of September

A final report on the feasibility of the routes, including systems and software development at customs level, is expected from Kolkata Port Authority to MEA by the end of September. This will then be followed up with the neighboring country.

“These are duty-free goods moving from one place in India to another via Bangladesh. So some software changes are needed on the customs side, both in India and in Bangladesh. All of these will be reviewed once the route feasibility report arrives,” an official said. If cleared, it would take another nearly two years for the roads to materialize.

Published on

06 September 2022

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