Explained | Will the Northeast benefit from Bangladesh offer of services at Chittagong Port? 

The story up to now: Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina provided India using the Chittagong Port when Exterior Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar referred to as on her in Dhaka final month for an invitation to New Delhi. Ms. Hasina stated the port can be of profit to India’s northeastern States, significantly Assam and Tripura. The 2 different northeastern States bordering Bangladesh — Meghalaya and Mizoram — may additionally profit from entry to the port.

Additionally learn | Higher transport hyperlinks a win-win for India, Bangladesh: World Financial institution

How did Partition have an effect on enterprise within the Northeast?

India’s Northeast had easy accessibility to the seaports, particularly Chittagong, in present-day Bangladesh through the Brahmaputra and Barak River programs earlier than independence. The Partition in 1947 didn’t instantly have an effect on the transportation of tea, timber, coal and oil by means of these rivers and local-level border commerce, serving to preserve undivided Assam’s standing because the State with the very best per capita earnings until the early Fifties. However the quantity of commerce started dipping with the souring of ties between India and Pakistan — Bangladesh was East Pakistan then — earlier than the 1965 battle lower the Northeast off. The motion of products by means of the ‘rooster’s neck’, a slim strip in West Bengal, grew to become a costlier various for the area after entry to the river and land routes by means of East Pakistan was denied.

Did issues change after Bangladesh was created?

The creation of Bangladesh with India’s assist in 1971 didn’t translate into the revival of the normal river and land commerce and communication routes for the Northeast. A level of distrust between the 2 international locations, primarily due to the ‘Bangladeshi’ challenge and camps established by myriad Northeast extremist teams in Bangladesh, didn’t assist issues. Moreover, the 2 international locations didn’t take a look at commerce and commerce alternatives extra carefully. The state of affairs started to alter when Sheikh Hasina’s Awami League authorities took cost in 2009 and the distrust lessened after the dispute-ending land boundary settlement was signed in 2015. The 2 international locations undertook efforts to enhance capability throughout waterways, roadways and railroads. From a bus service between Agartala and Kolkata through Dhaka to the motion of cargo on barges, trial runs and trans-shipments have been efficiently performed.

What does the Bangladesh PM’s supply imply?

The Northeast has been the important thing to the rise in bilateral engagements between India and Bangladesh within the final 5 years. India’s ‘Act East’ coverage that focuses on the area and a brand new sense of cooperation between the 2 international locations might help the Northeast, particularly 4 States, discover the potential of financial actions optimally. These States — Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram — share a 1,879 km border with Bangladesh. With a particular deal with railways and waterways, most of the pre-Partition commerce routes are being revived. Most of those roads result in Chittagong port, which has traditionally been the biggest and essentially the most handy for commerce and commerce for the area. The significance of this port made the British directors construct the Assam-Bengal Railway path to ship items from the Chittagong port to the remotest elements of the area such because the now-defunct Lekhapani station close to the Arunachal Pradesh-Assam border.

Is there any motion on the bottom?

The necessity for connectivity between India’s ‘mainland’ and the Northeast through Bangladesh by means of a multi-modal strategy has been felt for a very long time. It started translating into motion on the bottom within the final 5 years following the evaluation that reopening the pre-Partition commerce routes would cut back the fee and time of transportation for the Northeast and generate income for Bangladesh. India has been engaged on infrastructure on both aspect of the border. In March 2021, the Prime Ministers of the 2 international locations inaugurated the Maitri Setu, a bridge constructed over the Feni River, which has diminished the space between Sabroom in southern Tripura and the Chittagong port to only 111 km. The federal government is engaged on a multi-modal transit hub at Sabroom inclusive of street and rail connectivity that may assist items attain the Chittagong port in just a few hours. Highway connectivity in Meghalaya’s Dawki, southern Assam’s Sutarkandi and Tripura’s Akhaura linking japanese and south-eastern Bangladesh can be being improved. Mizoram is eager on bridges throughout the Khawthlangtuipui river (Karnaphuli in Bangladesh) for sooner entry to the Chittagong port. Other than the India-Bangladesh Protocol Route involving the Brahmaputra, cargo ships from Bangladesh have reached Tripura by means of the Gomati River and Assam’s Karimganj through the Kushiara River.

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