Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Delhi Seeks Transit Facility Thru 15 Road, Rail Routes

New Delhi has submitted a proposal to Dhaka to allow the use of the latter's road and rail facilities on 15 routes for the purpose of export and import of goods to and from India to third countries and one part of India to another through the Bangladesh territory and its sea ports -- Chittagong and Mongla, official sources said. Seeking access to the territory of Bangladesh and its sea ports for the North-Eastern regions of India, New Delhi has invited Bangladesh government to sign a protocol for a period of seven years for the purpose of transit, corridor and use of two ports, a top official in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said. Indian High Commission in Dhaka has sent the proposal to MoFA last week for consideration. The proposal, styled "Protocol between India and Bangladesh for arrangements for use of Chittagong and Mongla ports by India" has outlined broad characteristics on transit and use of ports. The 15 road and rail routes, sought by India in the proposed protocol are -- Akhaura-Agartala, Sabroom- Ramgarh, Demagiri-Thegamukh, Bibir Bazar-Srimantpur, Belonia- Belonia, Betuli-Old Raghna Bazar, Chatlapur-Manu, Tamabil-Dawki, Borosora-Borosora, Haluaghat- Ghasuapara, Sonamganj- Shellbazar, Darshanak-Gede, Rohanpur-Singhabad, Birol- Radhikapur and Benapole- Petrapole. The proposed protocol, a copy of which has been obtained by the FE, has 10 articles. These are -- import of goods from third countries by India through Chittagong/ Mongla port, export of goods to third countries by India through Chittagong/ Mongla port, warehouse facility and provisions with regard to routes, other requirements for movement of cargo to and from India under protocol, additional routes, exemption from customs duties, procedure for movement of goods in India through territory of Bangladesh, Joint Committee, Inter-Governmental Committee and the validity and commencement of protocol. The proposed protocol has sought movement of cargo under the protocol be exempted from customs duties and other charges. It, however, has agreed to pay reasonable transportation charges and transit fees under the protocol. "Movement of cargo under the protocol shall be exempted from customs duties and other charges except reasonable charges for transportation and such other charges as are commensurate with the cost of services rendered in respect of such movement," reads the protocol. "Transit fees, if any, to be levied will be decided by mutual consent of both governments." According to the proposal, Bangladesh customs could not examine any Indian containerised cargo if it is sealed (one-time-lock) .In respect of non-containerised ones, the customs house may make a selective percentage examination of the goods to check whether the goods are in accordance with customs declaration, said the protocol. The Indian importers will provide details of letter of credits (L/Cs) alongwith other relevant information to Bangladesh customs at the time of importing goods from third countries through Chittagong/Mongla port, which will not be applicable at the time of export of goods through Bangladesh ports and territory, the protocol mentioned. In both purposes, importer or exporter has to mention the route to be used for movement of goods to and from India through Bangladesh territory, it added. Both the port authorities will provide warehouses, sheds and open space for storage of cargo to /from India under the protocol. The authorities of Chittagong and Mongla ports will provide preferential berth facilities to Indian cargoes, the protocol said. A high official in the MoFA said they are yet to go through the details of the protocol, sent by the Indian High Commission in Dhaka. "An inter-ministerial meeting will be convened soon to get the opinions of different ministries on the Indian proposal," the official told the FE. "The draft protocol will be sent to Ministry of Commerce and Ministry of Shipping soon for necessary actions," he added.