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Bangladesh’s Chittagong port. Image source: lightcastlebd.com

Dhaka, Bangladesh: For the first time in their history as nations, neighbors Bangladesh and India last week launched direct cargo services that would enable goods shipped by sea to reach each other’s ports in a maximum of four days, officials say.

Previously, goods sent from India took more than three weeks to reach Bangladesh’s Chittagong or Mongla ports because shipments first had to pass through Colombo or Singapore, Bangladesh shipping minister Shajahan Khan said.


“I have inaugurated the service on Tuesday and the first Bangladesh cargo ship left Chittagong Thursday for Indian ports. This is a historic day for all of us,” Khan told reporters.

“The businessmen used to take at least 25 days to carry goods to and from India and Bangladesh. Now, with the coastal shipping service in place, we can export to and import from India in only four days. This reduced time and cost would automatically boost trade between the two neighbors,” Khan said.

Businessmen said the direct routes would also boost trade between India and Bangladesh and allow India to ship products to its seven northeastern states via Chittagong port.

“The coastal shipping is a very good move to increase trade in the sub-region comprising Bangladesh, landlocked northeastern states of India, Nepal and Bhutan,” Q.K. Ahmad, the former president of the Bangladesh Economic Association, told BenarNews.

Bangladesh and India signed an agreement during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Dhaka on June 6, 2015, followed by the signing of a protocol in November, which cleared the way for direct maritime cargo services.

The countries’ bilateral annual trade volume is worth more than U.S. $6.6 billion, according to a commerce ministry figure.

Cargo ships from Bangladesh’s Chittagong, Narayanganj, Ashuganj, Paira, Khulna, Mongla and Pangaon (near Dhaka) ports can carry goods to seven Indian eastern coastal ports in Kolkata, Haldia, Paradip, Vishakhapatnam, Kakinada, Krishnapatnam and Chennai and vice versa, according to the agreement papers.

On Thursday, Bangladeshi shipping company Neepa Paribahan dispatched its first cargo ship laden with cotton and textile items from Chittagong port to the Indian port of Krishnapatnam, company CEO Sirajur Rahman told reporters.

Before this week, a ship from India’s Kolkata port could reach Chittagong ports in two days, but companies had to pay the rate based on a 25-day transit via Singapore or Colombo.

“And businessmen must charge for every second. The higher cost results in higher commodity prices to the consumers,” Rahman said.

Khwaza Moinuddin, a columnist and former president of Economic Reporters’ Forum in Bangladesh, explained that Bangladeshi and Indian businessmen used to ship cargo between the two countries, via Singapore and Colombo, for economic reasons.

“The volume of cargo generated in different Indian ports for Bangladesh was not adequate to load a big ship, as a majority of the export-import business was done through land ports. So all the small consignments of cargo were sent to Colombo or Singapore, where businessmen jointly hire big Bangladesh-bound ships,” he told reporters.

Mainuddin said the introduction of the coastal shipping service would allow small ships to shuttle to all ports located along India’s east coast and carry the goods to and from Bangladesh.

Easing overland bottlenecks

The text of the bilateral deal stipulated that the maritime shipping services between India and Bangladesh would enable the movement of cargo to the Northeastern states through Chittagong, and thereafter by road or river routes.

“The deep draft ports on the eastern coast of India can be ‘hub ports’ for the onward transportation of cargo to Bangladesh via the coastal mode. The Indian ports will attract enhanced cargo and also the overall transportation cost to Bangladesh will get reduced,” the document said.

The rapid growth of India-Bangladesh trade has resulted in congestion at the main Petrople-Benapole land port. The traffic congestion on the Bangladesh side of the land port has emerged as one of the biggest impediments to export-import trade, it said.

(The article was originally published in benarnews.org)


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Photo by GOI.

New Education Policy 2020

On the first day of the two-day meeting of BJP and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) leaders on Tuesday, discussions were held on important issues related to education and the National Education Policy-2020.

Apart from senior RSS leader Suresh Soni, representatives of various organisations associated with the Sangh Parivar -- working in the field of education -- were present in the meeting in New Delhi.

According to sources, Union Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who attended the meeting on behalf of the government, shared information related to the National Education Policy-2020 and the government's policy on important issues related to the education sector. Pradhan also shared details of the efforts being made by the government in the field of education.

Discussions were also held regarding the impact of the situation arising out of Corona and how much it has affected the education sector.

In the meeting, the RSS leaders asked several questions and provided suggestions to the Union Minister regarding the education policy of the government.

According to the sources, RSS wants the policy to be implemented expeditiously. All aspects related to the policy were discussed in Tuesday's meeting.

On the second and the last day of the meeting on Wednesday, special issues related to education will be discussed in which representatives of various organisations of the Sangh, Union Ministers and several BJP leaders will be take part.

Meanwhile, in order to convey its point of view to the government on various issues, the Sangh keeps on calling such coordination meetings related to specific issues, in which RSS representatives -- working in that particular area -- provide feedback to the government. (IANS/JB)

Keywords: BJP, RSS, New Education Policy, Education, India


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