Tripura asks for access to Bangladesh port to transport foodgrains

Agartala (Tripura), Apr.29: A top government official of Tripura on Monday said that the state has approached the Union Government to gain access to a port in Bangladesh in order to transport essential commodities to the state.

Tripura has been demanding access to the Chittagong sea port of Bangladesh.

“Chittagong can be connected through road network. If access is given to Chittagong port by the Bangladesh government, that road will be very helpful. There are some conditionalities which can be sorted out by both the governments. Out government is very keen. But Bangladesh government has put some conditionalities that can be sorted out at the appropriate level, “said transport secretary of Tripura, Kishore Ambuly.

The state government had initiated the move to get access to Bangladesh’s Ashuganj port after the railways announced suspension of train services to Agartala because of gauge-conversion work.

From Oct er, railway connectivity between Agartala and the rest of the country through Lumding will be suspended as the metre gauge track will be converted to broad gauge and hence the need for access through Ashuganj for transporting, mainly foodgrains.

The temporary disruption in railway connectivity will put immense pressure on NH-44, which connects Assam and Agartala, making inward movement of essential commodities difficult and hence as an alternative arrangement, the Tripura government wants the Union Government to press Bangladesh for allowing transportation of essential commodities through its territory.

Earlier in a major policy change, the Bangladesh Government agreed to transport 10,000 tonnes of food grains for Tripura from Haldia (port in West Bengal) to Ashuganj (port in Bangladesh).

“Our state government has taken up the matter with the cabinet secretary and the railway ministry. They, of course, will talk to ministry of railway affairs also. So it is taken up with the Government of Bangladesh,”Ambuly added.

The successful transit of the foodgrains through the neighbouring nation will not only reduce the distance of more than 1600 km between Tripura and West Bengal through the hilly serpentine road to one-third and thus save huge amount of transportation money, but will also save precious time.

Due to shortage of rail wagons, inadequate storage facilities and various other bottlenecks, the northeastern states have been suffering from poor supply of food grains for most part of the year, especially during the monsoon.

Surface connectivity is a key factor in the state as the hilly region is surrounded by Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and China and the only land route to these states from within India is through Assam and West Bengal.(ANI)