India-Bhutan Current Affairs - 2019
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In a first ever movement of its kind, IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India) ship carrying Bhutanese cargo was flagged off from Dhubri in Assam to Narayanganj in Bangladesh over Brahmaputra River and the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route.
The cargo carrying stone from Bhutan to be delivered in Bangladesh was digitally flagged-off by Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemical & Fertilizers.
Background: Until now, Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh via land route by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 KMs from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Assam. This new route development is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of promoting cargo transportation via inland waterways.
Iwai Ship carries 1000 MT of stones aggregates i.e. about 70 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road. In return journey of the vessel Bangladesh will send jute and rice to Bhutan in same vessel.
This move will strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries thus will be beneficial to all countries involved i.e. India, Bhutan and Bangladesh.
The transport of cargo via this route will reduce travel time by 8 to 10 days, and will cut down transportation cost by 30%, bringing down logistics costs.
It will also be more environment friendly mode of transport.
Other than strengthening India’s ties with its neighbouring countries, this new development will also open up an alternate route to country’s North Eastern states, making it easier and cheaper to reach goods to these places from other parts of the country.
Dredging undertaken along Ship route:
Capital dredging was carried out to maintain an assured draft in navigation channel
Maintenance dredging will be carried out as and when required
Importance: This is for the 1st time ever, an Indian waterway is being used for transport of cargo between two countries, using India for transit.
Steps Taken by Government for promoting Inland Waterways
Currently, at least 10 other National Waterways are under development.
Centre government is also undertaking many initiatives to increase use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment such as providing assured depth of water in channels, terminals at regular intervals, navigation aids (ex- GPS and River Information System), facilities for mechanized handling of cargo handling etc.
At major ports of country a minimum 40 % discount and priority in berthing is being given to coastal vessels.
Central Government has also provided Licensing relaxations under section 406 and 407 of Merchant Shipping Act 1958 for fisheries/animal husbandry products/fertilizers/horticultural/agricultural products/empty containers as well as containers being transshipped from another Indian port, special vessels such as Ro-Ro (Roll-on/roll-off), Ro-Pax (roll-on/roll-off passenger), Project cargo/ Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC).
Tags: Bhutan-Bangladesh • Brahmaputra River • Dhubri • India-Bangladesh • India-Bhutan • Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route • Inland Waterways • Inland Waterways Authority of India • Iwai Ship • Merchant Shipping Act 1958
The new bilateral Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit between India and Bhutan came into force from July 2017. The new agreement aims to further strengthen the bilateral trade relations between both countries.
The new agreement signed in November 2016 provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan. It also provides for duty-free transit of Bhutanese merchandise for trade with third countries.
Bilateral trade between both countries will continue to be transacted in Bhutanese Ngultrums and Indian Rupees. Moreover, the new agreement removes requirement of having an annual consultation between India and Bhutan for the transit of goods of both countries along with the goods originating in third country
The bilateral trade relations between India and Bhutan are governed by the Agreement on Trade, Commerce and Transit. The agreement provides for a free trade regime between the territories of India and Bhutan. The last agreement was renewed on July 29, 2006 for ten years. The validity of this agreement was extended (from July 29, 2016) for one year or till new agreement comes into force.