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Current Affairs

Chittagong port

Date: 17 May 2022 Tags: Infrastructure

Issue

India has been offered the Chittagong port for business by the Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Haseena.

 

Background

The offer was made during the visit of External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar to Bangladesh.

 

Details

  • The move of giving access to Chittagong port would benefit India’s northeastern states, particularly Assam and Tripura.

  • Meghalaya and Mizoram also could benefit immensely from getting access to the Chittagong port located near the eastern coast.

 

History of trade in north-east

  • Before independence, the Chittagong port could be easily accessed through the Brahmaputra and Barak river system.

  • The route was used to transport coal, timber, tea and oil from northeastern part, especially Assam, to other regions.

  • Souring of ties between India and East Pakistan affected the trade routes. The 1965 war completely cut off India’s access to these ports.

  • The trade volume from Assam and northeast dipped significantly as transporting through Siliguri corridor became a costly affair.

 

Post-Bangladesh liberation

  • Creation of Bangladesh did not immediately revive the traditional river and land trade and communication routes for the Northeast.

  • The mistrust started to reduce after the Awami League government took charge in 2009 and the dispute-ending land boundary agreement was signed in 2015.

  • Ties were strengthened after introduction of bus service between Agartala and Kolkata via Dhaka. Similar transit movement for goods has been tested.

 

Implications

  • The move would benefit government’s Act East policy by helping in developing northeast as a hub for eastern trade.

  • The traditional northeast trade route, culminating at the Chittagong port, could be revived and help in boosting economic development in the region.

 

Measures to improve infrastructure

  • The government has inaugurated the Maitri Setu built over the Feni River in Tripura. This has reduced distance between southern Tripura and Chittagong port.

  • Roads have been constructed in Meghalaya’s Dawki, southern Assam’s Sutarkandi and Tripura’s Akhaura linking eastern and south-eastern Bangladesh.