Shipping ministry proposes revision

534
Inland Water Transit and Trade Protocol

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Author / Source: ANISUR RAHMAN KHAN
The shipping ministry has submitted the agreed minutes of a
secretary-level meeting between Bangladesh and India on the Protocol on
Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWTT), with certain amendments, to the
Cabinet Division for approval by the cabinet.

The agreed minutes are likely to be given approval at a cabinet meeting
on Monday, sources in the shipping ministry told The Independent
yesterday (Wednesday).
A secretary-level meeting was held in India’s
capital, New Delhi, on April 20 and 22 to settle several issues,
including renewal of the PIWTT. Bangladesh’s shipping secretary,
Shafique Alam Mehdi, and his Indian counterpart, Rajiv Kumar, signed the
agreed minutes on the concluding day of the meeting.
According to
sources, although the PIWTT will be renewed automatically after five
years, secretary level meetings between Bangladesh and India would be
held every two years.
More amendments have been incorporated in the
agreed minutes, such as, maintenance costs for the protocol routes
should be increased on a regular basis, considering the increase in
costs (India is now paying Tk. 10 crore annually as maintenance costs
for the protocol routes); a committee is to be formed, comprising
members from the two countries, for fixing duties, sources said.
Besides, provisions have been incorporated to increase charges at river ports with terms and conditions, the sources added.
The
secretary-level meeting in New Delhi discussed several issues,
including extension of the PIWTT, development of the entire protocol
route under regional IDA assistance of the World Bank, inclusion of
passenger vessel and cruise vessel for plying on the protocol routes,
inclusion of additional ports
of call, commencement of the coastal
shipping between India and Bangladesh, adoption of
reports/recommendations of the joint technical committee’s (JTCs),
cooperation on light-house and marine training, interest of Indian
companies at “Paira” port of Bangladesh, transhipment of cargo at
Ashuganj, bank guarantee for transit cargo, amendment of the PIWTT and
trade with Nepal and Bhutan under the PIWTT as per Article VIII of the
Bangladesh-India trade agreement.
According to the minutes, the
Indian side stressed the need for automatic consideration of the
proposals for transhipment of cargo at Ashuganj for onward
transportation through road to Tripura via Akhaura, without
necessitating separate clearance for each consignment.
“The
Bangladesh side said that as per the recommendations of the JTCs, about
52 lakh cubic metres of dredging is required for smooth vessel
operations through the protocol routes and sought financial assistance
from India in this regard. The Indian side stated that the proposal
needs to be examined on completion of a detailed project report and
reconciliation of the dredging quantity after duly considering the water
level to be maintained,” according to the agreed minutes.
The final agreement will be signed during the Indian Prime Minister’s visit to Bangladesh.
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