Kolkata port, now rechristened as Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (SMP), on Monday completed trial runs for implementation of an agreement on the utilisation of Bangladesh’s Chittagong and Mongla ports for trade to northeast India.
The trial runs, which started on July 28, were supposed to end in December. “Earlier, traditional cargo used to get transported through roads and rails. Now, a more economical alternative route has been established for sending cargo to states like Assam, Meghalaya and Tripura,” P L Haranadh, chairman, SMP, told TOI.
He congratulated all port users, officers and employees of SMP for actively participating in the trials undertaken on the following routes — Mongla to Tamabil (a hilly area in Bangladesh’s Sylhet), Tamabil to Chittagong, Chittagong to Sheola (a land border) and Mongla to Bibirbazar. The trials, via Bangladesh ports, were to be completed within six months.
Samrat Rahi, deputy chairman, SMP, who received the containers (tea from Goodricke in Assam) at the Netaji Subhas Dock (NSD), on Monday, said, “The trial movement of Indian cargo, originating from Bengal, via Chattogram and Mongla ports with destinations to Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya have been successfully carried out and cargo is delivered to the customers in northeast. The return movement from Tamabil to Chittagong was completed well ahead of the set timeline.”
The four trial runs were split into two parts. The first phase on Mongla-Tamabil and Mongla-Bibirbazar (land port in Comilla) routes departed Kolkata on July 30. Maersk Line India partnered with SMP to conduct these two trial runs. The second phase along Chittagong-Sheola and Tamabil-Chittagong routes was carried out with CJ Darcl Logistics.
The initiative will help boost the business flow on inland waterways via the Indo-Bangla Protocol route, Haranadh said. The decision to conduct trial runs was taken after the 13th India-Bangladesh Joint Group of Customs (JSC) meeting held in March where it was also decided that ships can carry cargo to both Bangladesh and the north-eastern states.
“The trials pave ways for an alternative route through waterways for transportation of coastal containers from Kolkata port to northeast, along with other containers to Bangladesh in the same barge or vessel,” an official said.