2nd Addendum on Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh



News Desk, Barta24.com, Dhaka
Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury  and Riva Ganguly Das, Photo: Collected

Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury and Riva Ganguly Das, Photo: Collected

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People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Republic of India have a long standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways of both countries. This Protocol, which was first signed in the year 1972, immediately after independence of Bangladesh is a reflection of shared history, trusted friendship and mutually beneficial partnership between the two countries. It was last renewed in 2015 for five years with a provision of its automatic renewal for a further period of five years giving long term assurance to various stakeholders.

2) The Standing Committee on the Protocol and the Shipping Secretary Level Talks are the institutional arrangement between the two friendly neighbours to discuss and make the Protocol more effective. During the discussions between India and Bangladesh at these meetings held in October, 2018 in New Delhi and in December, 2019 in Dhaka, key decisions were taken on the extension of protocol routes, inclusion of new routes, and declaration of new Ports of Call to facilitate trade between the two countries. These decisions have been made effective with the signing of 2nd Addendum to the Protocol today. The specific points agreed by the two sides are explained below.

A. Routes: The number of Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes are being increased from 8 to 10 and new locations are also added to the existing routes: -

I. Inclusion of Sonamura- Daudkhandi stretch of Gumti river (93 km) as IBP route no. 9 & 10 in the Protocol will improve the connectivity of Tripura and adjoining States with India and Bangladesh’s economic centres and will help the hinterland of both the countries. This route shall be connecting all existing IBP routes from 1 to 8.

II. The operationalization of Rajshahi-Dhulian-Rajshahi Routes and their extension up to Aricha (270 km) will help the augmentation of infrastructure in Bangladesh as it would reduce the transportation cost of stone chips/aggregate to northern part of Bangladesh through this route. Further, it will also decongest Land Custom Stations on both sides.

III. In Routes (1) & (2) [Kolkata-Shilghat-Kolkata] as well as in Routes (3) & (4) [Kolkata-Karimganj-Kolkata], Kolaghat in India has been added.

IV. Routes (3) & (4) [Kolkata-Karimganj-Kolkata] and Routes (7) & (8) [Karimganj-Shilghat-Karimganj] have been extended up to Badarpur in India. In these routes, Ghorasal in Bangladesh has also been added.
B. Ports of Call: Under the current Protocol, there are six Ports of Call each in India and Bangladesh. They are: Kolkata, Haldia, Karimganj, Pandu, Shilghat and Dhubri on Indian side and Narayanganj, Khulna, Mongla, Sirajganj, Ashuganj and Pangaon on Bangladesh side. The newly added five Ports of Call on Indian side are: Dhulian, Maia, Kolaghat, Sonamura and Jogigopha and on Bangladesh side are: Rajshahi, Sultanganj, Chilmari, Daudkandi and Bahadurabad. Further, two more extended Ports of Call – Tribeli ( Bandel) and Badarpur on Indian side and Ghorasal and Muktarpur on Bangladesh side – have been added through this addendum, increasing the number to eleven Ports of Call and two extended Ports of Call in both the countries.

Inclusion of Jogigopha in India and Bahadurabad in Bangladesh as a new Port of Call will provide connectivity to Meghalaya, Assam and Bhutan. Jogigopha also becomes important, since, a Multimodal Logistics Park is proposed to be established there. The new Ports of Call would enable the loading and unloading of cargo transported on the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route and provide a stimulus to the economic development of the new locations and their hinterland.

C. Movement on shallow draft mechanized vessels: As a path-breaking development, both sides have agreed to introduce trade between Chilmari (Bangladesh) and Dhubri (India) through the use of shallow draft mechanized vessels, provided these are registered either under Inland Shipping Ordinance 1976 of Bangladesh or Inland Vessels Act, 1917 of India as per provisions of Article 1.3 of the Protocol and conform to safety requirements. This initiative will allow export of stone chips and other Bhutanese and North East cargo to Bangladesh and easy access for the traders to the hinterland of Bangladesh, enhancing the local economy in Bangladesh and the lower Assam region of India.

Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury  and Riva Ganguly Das, Photo: Collected

D. New Opportunities on cargo movement: Under this Protocol, Inland vessels of both the countries can ply on the designated protocol route and dock at Ports of Call in each country, notified for loading / unloading of cargo. There has been significant improvement in the movement of cargo vessels in an organized manner on the Protocol route carrying both the transit cargo to North East region of India and vice-versa and export-cargo to Bangladesh. The Indian transit cargo is mainly coal, fly-ash, POL and ODC for power projects in North East region. The other potential cargo for movement is fertilizers, cement, food grains, agricultural products, containerized cargo etc. The export cargo from India to Bangladesh is mainly fly-ash which is to the tune of 30 lakhs MT per annum. Around 638 inland vessels (including 600 Bangladeshi flag vessels) completed with approximately 4000 loaded voyages annually.

It is expected that these additions to the Protocol will greatly facilitate the bilateral trade, with improved reliability and cost effectiveness for the business community and the people of both the countries.

Excellent connectivity provided by the existing and the newly added protocol routes is all the more pertinent in the present Covis-19 scenario as it will be instrumental in providing economical, faster, safer and greener mode of transport for traders and business communities of both the countries and will also have environmental benefits for the region.

The 2nd Addendum to the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade was signed at Dhaka on 20 May 2020 by Smt. Riva Ganguly Das, High Commissioner of India in Bangladesh on behalf of the Republic of India; and by Mohammed Mezbah Uddin Chowdhury, Secretary Ministry of Shipping, on behalf of People’s Republic of Bangladesh.

Internet Shutdown in the Country, BTV Fire, Death Toll Rises



BTV set ablaze in deadly protests, death toll rises

BTV set ablaze in deadly protests, death toll rises

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The latest updates on the quota reform movement have become challenging to obtain and share due to restricted or disconnected internet access across the country, including Dhaka. Internet-based calls to Bangladesh from various parts of the world are also impossible. This information has been reported by various international media outlets.

Recent reports indicate that the death toll in the quota movement has reached 18, with six fatalities occurring on Thursday. However, the actual number may be higher, as unverified reports on social media suggest the death toll could be as high as 35. No official confirmation has been provided.

In addition, several international media outlets reported that protesters set fire to the BTV (Bangladesh Television) building on Thursday evening.

Since Thursday evening, there have been reports of an internet shutdown in Dhaka. Before the shutdown, updates on Facebook indicated that protesters had set fire to the BTV building, with images circulating on social media. There were also reports and pictures of a metro train set ablaze.

A post on BTV's official Facebook page stated that several people were trapped inside the building. Initially, it was reported that the fire brigade was not allowed to access the site, but later updates confirmed that firefighters had arrived. BTV's broadcast had already been halted by that time.

Various sources have reported different death tolls. AFP stated that 32 people have died, most of them on Thursday.

Among the dead were at least two journalists, one from Dhaka Times who died in the capital and another killed in an attack in Gazipur. The Gazipur incident has not been confirmed.

Media reports also mentioned that protesters set fire to a police station before targeting the BTV building. The BBC quoted Information Minister Mohammad Ali Arafat, who said that some people were trapped inside the BTV building and were not safe.

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Appeal hearing on quota on Sunday



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Appeal hearing on quota on Sunday

Appeal hearing on quota on Sunday

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The hearing of the full bench of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court on quota will be held next Sunday (July 21).

The special chamber court passed the order on Thursday (July 18) evening.

Earlier, Attorney General AM Amin Uddin said that he will apply to the Appellate Division for a leave to appeal hearing against the High Court verdict on quota.

In the afternoon, Law Minister Anisul Haque said, "The Prime Minister said to take measures to bring forward the hearing of the case which was supposed to be heard on August 7, 2024." I have instructed the Attorney General of Bangladesh to apply to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh next Sunday so that they bring forward the hearing date of the case. 

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The fire has spread in BTV, many people are trapped inside



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Photo: The fire has spread to BTV

Photo: The fire has spread to BTV

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The fire at the Bangladesh Television (BTV) building in the capital's Rampura is spreading. Many are trapped inside the building.

This was announced by a post on the official Facebook page of Bangladesh Television at 6:39 PM on Thursday (July 18).

The post reads, 'Horrible fire at BTV. Spreading rapidly. Many are trapped inside. In this situation, quick cooperation of fire service is requested.

On Thursday (July 18) around 3 pm, the agitators attacked the office of Bangladesh Television (BTV) and vandalized it extensively. At that time, they brought out the motorcycles in the building and set them on fire.

It has been seen that practically all types of traffic have been stopped in Rampura area. The police box located next to the office of the BTV building was set on fire. At least 15 to 20 motorcycles of the sergeants were burnt. One by one, patrolling teams of law enforcement forces are patrolling through helicopters.

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Freedom fighters cannot bow down to evil forces: Liberation War Minister



Staff Correspondent, Barta24.com
Photo: Liberation War Minister AKM Mozammel Haque

Photo: Liberation War Minister AKM Mozammel Haque

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Liberation War Minister AKM Mozammel Haque said that there are crores of people who are in favor of the liberation war, they can never bow down to the evil forces, they cannot compromise.

He said this while speaking as the chief guest at a rally organized by Freedom Fighters Workers-Employees-Professionals Coordinating Council on Thursday (July 18).

He said, those who want to fish in muddy water, those who have failed in all movements in the past and BNP Secretary General also said what we could not do now is being done. In other words, they are making an evil plot in front of our young children to oust Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina from power.

Referring to the speech of the freedom fighters, the Minister said, "We submitted weapons under the leadership of Bangabandhu, but we did not submit training, we did not submit consciousness." There are crores of people in favor of the liberation war, they can never bow down to the evil forces, they cannot compromise. In 1971 this evil power was defeated. We will fight again if necessary as we defeated them 53 years ago.

Mentioning that we have no word against the anti-quota movement, he said, "We do not oppose it." Our only demand is that the safety of people's life and property should not be disturbed in the name of movement. The movement was going smoothly and was not hindered. The violence that the Jamaat-Shibir and Chhatra Dal terrorists entered Dhaka University in the dark of night and carried out was not in the hands of those who started the movement.

Stating that the movement has already been looted and passed into the hands of the anti-independence forces, AKM Mozammel Haque said that, the conflict and anarchy for the last three days are because they have left. What we see now.

Referring to the Prime Minister's speech yesterday, the Liberation War Minister said that not only the Bengali nation but the whole world appreciated it. Still, who did this terror, vandalism, arson today.

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