DHAKA: Bangladesh and India recently signed an agreement renewing the bilateral protocol on inland water transit and trade during the two-day meeting in the capital.
The tenure of the last protocol expired on March 31. Following renewal, the protocol will remain valid till March 31, 2014.
India was in favour of at least a three-year tenure of the protocol but Bangladesh was opposed to it. It might be noted that the first protocol on inland water transit and trade between the two countries was signed as early as 1972.
The eight-member Indian delegation was led by Mr P.K. Sinha, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, and the 18-member Bangladesh team by Mr Abdul Mannan Hawaldar, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of Bangladesh.
India has acceded to Bangladesh’s request for enhancement of fee for maintenance of the river routes incorporated in the protocol.
India so far paid Tk 5.25 annually towards the cost of maintenance. The amount has been raised to Tk 10 crore annually following last week’s meeting.
It will cover not only the cost of maintaining the navigability of the routes but also pilotage fee, canal and berthing charges.
However, no decisions could be reached on several other issues raised by the two sides, such as India’s demands for long term validation of the river transit and trade and extension of transshipment facility at Ashuganj port in Bangladesh to facilitate transportation of goods to India’s North-East via Akhaura and the Bangladesh’s demands for extension of the present protocol also to cover coastal services between the two countries and the payment of Customs facilitation fee by India at the rate of $8 a tonne.
These issues, it is learnt, will be examined by committees to be constituted with representatives from both the countries.
Source: The Hindu
BDST: 0150 HRS, July 10, 2012
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