The Tripura government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to set up a in Sepahijala district, where a test run was held in September, 2020 for Indo-Bangla inland waterways transport. The project is expected to boost the state’s ambitious waterways transport, connectivity and border trade with Bangladesh.
After signing the MoU, Union minister for ports and shipping Sarbananda Sonowal said that ten new jetties will be built on the Gomati river which will speeden Indo-Bangladesh trade via waterways. He also said that Tripura holds huge potential in its waterways and that the central government would conduct studies and hydrological survey on the other rivers of the state and depending on the feasibility, take further action to develop them.
Tripura currently imports goods worth Rs 20,000 crore from Bangladesh and other Indian states annually. Among these, goods worth Rs 645 crore is imported from Bangladesh. Tripura, on the other hand, exports Rs 2000 crore worth of goods such as rubber, bamboo, tea and pineapple.
The huge trade deficit is due to abnormally high import duty apparatus on the other side of the border, absence of many commodities abundant here in the list of good allowed for export and port restrictions. The state government is hopeful of turning the tables with the newly launched inland waterways connectivity route with Bangladesh, since the inland waterways route through Tripura could provide an alternative to the current arrangements of importing goods through Haldia Port in Bengal, 1,200 kms away. Chittagong port in Bangladesh is located much closer, at a distance of 600 kms.