Reciprocal Transit Arrangements may Benefit India and Bangladesh

India and Bangladesh might benefit by providing access to each other’s ports for transhipment of goods

siliguri corridor
Siliguri corridor

Siliguri Corridor, is vital to maintaining transit, communication and trade between North East India with rest of India

Siliguri Corridor, dubbed Chicken’s Neck in strategy circles, is a narrow stretch of land, located in the Indian state of West Bengal that connects India’s seven north eastern states to the rest of India. The Siliguri corridor at its narrowest point is only around 27 km wide. The countries of Nepal and Bangladesh lie on either side of the corridor and Bhutan on the northern edge of the corridor. This corridor is vital to maintaining transit, communication and trade between North East India with rest of India.

China might attempt to bring the strategically crucial Siliguri Corridor in its artillery firing range.

The Doklam Standoff at India-Bhutan-China tri-junction, in addition to regular muscle-flexing by the Chinese against its neighbouring countries, is also being seen as an attempt by Chinese to bring the strategically crucial Siliguri Corridor in its artillery firing range.

India has made certain half-baked efforts in past to seek access to Chittagong Port in Bangladesh for transhipment access to North-East India without much success. India is also involved in the execution of the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project to provide North-East India access to the sea for trade via Sittwe port in Myanmar.

The broad contours of India must offer Bangladesh transhipment of Bangladesh Containers from ports in Gujarat & Maharashtra

I suggest a reciprocal agreement between India and Bangladesh to provide access to each other’s ports for transhipment of goods. The broad contours of India must offer Bangladesh transhipment of Bangladesh Containers (Import & Export) from (1 or 2) ports in Gujarat & Maharashtra for onward movement to Middle East / Europe / Africa – key markets for Ready Made Garment (RMG) Industry – the principal foreign exchange earner of Bangladesh revitalizing the existing rail corridor between India and Bangladesh in return for transhipment access to
(a) Chittagong Port, Bangladesh for transhipment / Export / Import of Goods in North East India – from India and also Other Countries. India is already building a railway line between Agartala (Tripura) and Chittagong (Bangladesh).
(b) Rail / Road transhipment of Goods Access between West Bengal and Assam via Assam Railway Line which was severed as a result of Partition in 1947.

China provides access to landlocked Central Asian Countries such as Kazakhstan, access to its ports in South China Sea for transhipment of Goods

My suggestion provides the vital quid pro quo/reciprocity in dealing with Bangladesh. I also learn from the fact that China gets access to Europe via Russia & CIS countries – the internationally acclaimed YuXiNou – in return for providing access to landlocked Central Asian Countries such as Kazakhstan, access to its ports in South China Sea for transhipment of Goods – the very foundation of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO). India already provides transhipment access between Bangladesh to Nepal and Bhutan under the BBIN (Bangladesh – Bhutan – India – Nepal ) Framework of Multilateral Agreements.

India is also involved in the Kaladan MultiModal Transit Transport Project between Sittwe (Myanmar) – a port in Bay of Bengal and Moreh (Manipur) – a border outpost and further access to North East India via National Highways since 2008. This project is vital to India’s strategic interests in Myanmar and India’s economic security interests in North-East India. However, the project is continually being delayed. Parts of the project are reported to have been completed but a missing link – a 109-km road from Zorinpui (India) to Paletwa (Myanmar) – is yet to be completed and is scheduled for completion only in 2019. India also needs to expedite the Kaladan MultiModal Transit Transport Project.


Note:
1. The views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of PGurus.

Nirmal Ghorawat

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