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SMP Kolkata : Cargo transport to and from the North-East to get a lot smoother

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KOLKATA : Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata (SMPK) will soon conduct market interventions and organise workshops to educate traders about the advantages of using sea-route for movement of cargo to and from the north-east region of the country.

According to industry sources, the move is expected to reduce travel time by almost half and cost by nearly one-fifth. A report by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) says that proximity to seaports will improve trade competitiveness of north-eastern states.

An agreement to use Chattogram and Mongla Ports in Bangladesh for India’s transit cargo was signed in October 2018. From Chattogram port to Agartala via Akhaura river, the distance is around 250 km (road) while the distance by road between Kolkata port and Agartala is about 1,500 km, according to a report by IWAI.

PL Haranadh, Chairman, SMP Kolkata, said that the necessary trial runs for ensuring smooth movement of goods have been conducted and operational feasibility has been established. The commercial movement of goods can start immediately. “Earlier transit to the North-East was through the road and rail networks. Now we have started to use ports to move to the north-eastern states. We will conduct market interventions and workshops to tell players that this option is now available,” he said.

SMP Kolkata is hopeful of completing the trial runs of cargo shipment via Chattogram and Mongla Ports by December 2022. Using these two ports in Bangladesh for movement of goods to and from the north-eastern region is a significant step in the Act East policy. For India in particular, transit and transhipment through Bangladesh is important, as it is expected to boost the economy of the north-eastern region.

Trial run

The four trial runs were divided into two parts. From Mongla to Tamabil and Mongla to Bibirbazar was done with Maersk Line, and from Chittagong to Sheola and Tamabil with CJ Darcl Logistics Ltd as a partner, he said.

Haranadh added that Indian cargo originating from West Bengal via Chattogram and Mongla Port to final destinations in Tripura, Assam and Meghalaya were delivered successfully. The return movement from Tamabil to Chittagong is getting completed well ahead of the set timeline, he said.

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