POST TIME: 12 December, 2016 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 12 December, 2016 12:50:37 AM
India agrees to pay more to dredge protocol routes
Tk 153 crore needed for maintaining the protocol routes

India agrees to pay more to dredge protocol routes

India has agreed to increase its share of the cost burden of dredging the Bhairab-Zakiganj and Aricha-Doikhawa protocol routes between Bangladesh and India. The agreement was reached at a shipping-secretary level meeting between the two countries held in Dhaka on December 7, ministry sources said.
Over Tk 200 crore are needed annually to keep dredging operations going, but India pays only Tk 10 crore for the job. Bangladesh had repeatedly asked India to increase the dredging cost compensation in view of the present market prices. India, finally, agreed to increase the amount at the latest round of shipping-secretary level talks, sources in the shipping ministry told this correspondent. According to the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA), at least 110 lakh cubic metres of silt have to be removed every year just on the Bhairab-Zakiganj protocol route. The length of the two protocol routes is about 600 km, the source added. “Three years ago, Bangladesh had estimated Tk 153 crore to be the annual cost of maintaining the protocol routes. But both Bangladesh and India agreed to update the estimate,” Rafiqul Islam, additional secretary of the shipping ministry, told The Independent.
He added that India agreed to pay 80 per cent of the updated estimate during the first year and 30 per cent in each subsequent year.
The two countries have finalised the draft to sign the memorandum of understanding (MoU) on the Indian proposal to use the Chittagong and Mongla seaports to ferry goods to and from India, the hiking of compensation money to maintain protocol routes, lighthouses and light ships, passenger and coastal services on the coastal and protocol routes, and the building of a multipurpose container terminal at the Paira port at the secretary-level meeting, he said. “An Indian inter-ministerial meeting will give approval within seven days to the issues finalised in the draft prepared at the Dhaka meeting. India will then send them to Dhaka and the issues will be placed before an inter-ministerial meeting to get Bangladesh’s approval,” Islam said.
The agreements and MoUs will be signed during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s visit to New Delhi, he added. Bangladesh shipping secretary Ashok Madhob Roy led a 15-member delegation, while Indian shipping secretary Rajive Kumar led a nine-member team at the secretary level meeting on December 7. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a meeting scheduled with her Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, in New Delhi on December 18, but the visit has been postponed. The Premier is likely to visit India in February next year.