India-Bangladesh to start cruise services

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Amid all the illegal Bangladeshi immigrants’ row going on in Assam and northeast, India and Bangladesh Wednesday have decided to start river cruise services between Kolkata – Dhaka and Guwahati – Jorhat and back.

To augment water transport, both the countries agreed to consider inclusion of Rupnarayan River in the protocol route besides declaring Kolaghatin in West Bengal and Chilmari in Bangladesh as new Ports of Call.

The decision was taken at the 19th Standing Committee meeting under ‘Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade’ (PIWTT) in New Delhi. India and Bangladesh discussed various issues pertaining to the protocol arrangements and improvement of inland water transportation between the two countries, said a statement from the Ministry of Shipping.

“The two sides agreed to consider inclusion of Rupnarayan river (National Waterway-86) from Geonkhali to Kolaghatin West Bengal in the protocol route. They also agreed to declare Kolaghatin West Bengal and Chilmari in Bangladesh as new Ports of Call,” the statement said.

Ports of call are places where ships make a stop during a journey. The new arrangement will facilitate movement of cement, construction materials etc from India to Bangladesh through IWT on Rupnarayan River.

This move has the potential to reduce the distance to Assam by more than 450 kms on the protocol routes, it said.

Further, both sides agreed to declare Badarpur on river Barak (NW 16) as an Extended Port of Call of Karimganj in Assam and Ghorasal of Ashuganj in Bangladesh on reciprocal basis. The Indian side proposed for extension of the protocol routes from Kolkata up to Silchar in Assam.

The statement said in another critical understanding reached at between the two countries, the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for movement of passengers and cruise vessels on Inland Protocol route and coastal shipping routes have been finalised.

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