Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya Friday flagged off a vessel, carrying stone from Bhutan to deliver in Bangladesh, using Indian waterway channel, as per an official release.
This is the first time an Indian waterway is being used as a channel for transport of cargo between two countries, using India for transit, the release said.
Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemical and Fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya digitally flag off an inland waterways vessel carrying stone from Bhutan to Bangladesh via River Brahmaputra (NW 2), the shipping ministry said in the release.
A thousand metric tonne of crushed stone aggregates will sail on the Inland Waterways Authority of India's (IWAI) vessel MV AAI from Dhubri port in Assam to Narayanganj in Bangladesh through India's NW2 and Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route, it said.
The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 kilometres (KM) from IWAI's Dhubri jetty in Assam.
Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates through the land route for different construction projects in Bangladesh, the release said.
"The development is a historic one, taking ahead the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote cargo transportation through inland waterways. He said the move will be beneficial to India as well as Bhutan and Bangladesh, and strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries," the minister was quoted as saying in the release.
The exports through inland waterways mode will serve as an alternative mode of transportation which is cheaper and more environment-friendly, the ministry had said on Thursday.
It also offers larger shipment size as compared to road, avoiding congestion on land routes. While this consignment is being transported in one single barge through inland waterways, by road, it would have taken 50 trucks of 20 tonne capacity to carry the same volume of cargo, it had said.
This movement, the ministry said, is expected to inspire confidence among the Bhutanese exporters to increasingly shift to waterways mode and increase the trade of stone aggregates and other cargo between Bhutan and Bangladesh through India's inland waterways. Bhutanese exporters and importers are likely to use this route frequently now.
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