Agartala, Aug 5 (IANS) The Centre has taken up with the Bangladesh government on the issue of approval of a new waterway between Tripura and Cumilla in the eastern part of that country, a Union Minister said on Monday.
Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya in a letter to the Tripura Chief Minister Biplab Kumar Deb said that after taking a view on the recommendations of the Joint Technical Committee (JTC) of India and Bangladesh, his ministry had, through India's High Commissioner in Dhaka, requested the Bangladesh government to accord in-principal approval for inclusion of the Sonamura (Tripura, India)-Daudkandi (Bangladesh) stretch of the Gomati river as part of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (water) route.
"After getting confirmation from Bangladesh, the Sonamura-Daudkandi (in Cumilla district of eastern Bangladesh) stretch would be included as part of the India-Bangladesh Protocol Route in the second addendum to PIWTT (Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade) to be signed in the next Shipping Secretary level talks between the two countries," the Union Minister said.
In his letter, a copy of which is available with IANS, Mandaviya told Deb that the movement of vessels on river Gomati between India and Bangladesh for providing waterway connectivity to Tripura would be permissible only after inclusion of the Sonamura-Daudkandi stretch as part of the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route.
After becoming Tripura Chief Minister, Deb took up the proposed waterway on a priority basis as it is a fuel efficient and environment friendly mode of transport between the mountainous northeastern state and Bangladesh.
"The Chief Minister discussed the proposed waterway with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya. The Prime Minister appreciated the Chief Minister for proposing the new waterway project," an official of the Chief Minister's secretariat told IANS on condition of anonymity.
Tripura government Principal Secretary (Transport) Laihlia Darlong said that the Rs 2,483 crore was proposed for the waterway (project) between Tripura and Bangladesh to the central ministry.
"The issue would also be discussed in the Foreign Secretary-level meeting in Dhaka in October. The entire expenditure of the new waterway projects would be born by the Indian government," he said.
Darlong also said that the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) officials also informed them that the Detailed Project Report of the proposed 18 km waterway between Gomati (Tripura) and Meghna (Bangladesh) would be finalised by September.
Darlong said that to create the new waterway between the two countries, 15 km have to be dredged in the Meghna river and three km in Gomati river.
"A joint technical committee of India and Bangladesh had recently visited the proposed site at Sonamura in western Tripura, where the IWAI would construct the terminal/jetty for the proposed river waterway," he added.