Headline : India connects Bangladesh to Bhutan, through waterway
- In a first-ever development, Indian waterways is being used to transport cargo between 2 countries i.e. Bhutan and Bangladesh.
- The inland waterways vessel containing cargo from Bhutan to Bangladesh will move via River Brahmaputra ( NW 2) and the Indo Bangla Protocol Route
- The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 KMs from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Asaam.
- The first ship carrying crushed stones from Bhutan started its journey from Dhubri river port in Assam to Narayanganj in Bangladesh
- India’s Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which is responsible for developing and maintaining national waterways, has carried out dredging on Brahmaputra to maintain an assured draft in navigation channel.
- At least 10 other National Waterways are under development currently.
- India is increasingly using its rivers to transport cargo which is cheaper than transport on roads.
Significance of the development
- The exports through Inland Waterways mode will serve as an alternate mode of transportation which will save 30% transportation cost, almost 50 per cent time and more environment friendly
- It also offers larger shipment size as compared to road, avoiding congestion on land routes.
- The move will facilitate Bhutan and Bangladesh trade through Brahmaputra as a part of Indo-Bangladesh protocol route.
- This will help in promoting Inland Waterways in India.
- It will also help India access the North-East States from Kolkata, Haldia through the inland waterways via Bangladesh.
- This will also give an impetus to trade and tourism in these countries.
About Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT)
- In 1972, India and Bangladesh signed the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT).
- It is a bilateral protocol connecting the inland waterways of India and Bangladesh for the transportation of goods and keeping their respective waterways navigable, while providing infrastructure facilities.
- The protocol further states that both countries will mutually decide the proposed expenses; voyage permissions shall be taken at least four days prior to the actual journey; and the vessels shall share equal tonnage.
- The India-Bangladesh Protocol Routes include parts of rivers Ganga, Hooghly, Brahmaputra, and Barak, and the Sundarbans
Note: In 2018, India and Bangladesh signed an agreement for inclusion of Dhubriin India and Pangaonin Bangladesh as new Ports of Call in PIWTT.
About Navigable Inland Waterways:
- A stretch of water, not part of the sea, over which craft of a carrying capacity not less than 50 tonnes can navigate when normally
- Rivers, lakes, canals, backwaters and reservoirs primarily constitute the source for inland waterways.
- National Waterways means an Inland Waterway of India designated as a National Waterway by the Government.
- In order to increase significance and efficiency of inland waterways, government has identified 10 important waterways which being given status of national waterways. Some of the declared waterways are –
- The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) came into existence in 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
- The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of Inland Water Transport infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping.
- The head office of the Authority is at Noida.