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Sonamura-Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route

Sonamura-Daudkandi Inland Waterway Route

Context:

Tripura has opened its first-ever inland waterway with Bangladesh from Sonamura in the Sepahijala district.

  • The route connecting Sonamura (India) and Daudkandi (Bangladesh) was included in the list of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) routes.

Tripura’s foreign trade:

  • Tripura’s cross-border trade commenced in 1995. Currently, Tripura exports goods and materials worth only Rs 30 crore to Bangladesh annually but imports good worth Rs 645 crore.
  • This huge trade deficit is due to abnormally high import duty in Bangladesh and the absence of many commodities abundant in the state in the list of goods allowed for export as well as port restrictions. 

The benefit of the Route:

Connectivity:

  • The route will improve the connectivity of Tripura and the adjoining States with Indian and Bangladesh and will help the hinterland of both the countries.
  • It provides inland waterways connectivity between the two countries, particularly with the North Eastern Region of India, and also enhances bilateral trade.

Protocol on Transit and Trade:

  • Both countries have a long-standing and time-tested Protocol on Transit and Trade through inland waterways which was first signed in 1972.
  • It was last renewed in for five years with a provision for its automatic renewal for a further period of five years.

Making Gomati navigable:

  • River Gomati is the largest and longest river of Tripura. It is also considered a sacred river and devotees converge along its banks at Tirthmukh every Makar Sankranti.
  • Gomati is also a regulated river. Due to the high altitude of in its upper catchment and the Dumber dam built-in 1974 as part of the Gumti hydro-electric power project, the river erodes a lot of sand and rocky particles in its upper segment.
  • The flow slows down a lot after it reaches the plains and at Maharani barrage in Gomati district, a large volume of the water is extracted for irrigation and is held back for the beautification of the Dumbur dam as a tourist spot.
  • A river needs at least 4-5 feet depth for goods carriers to navigate on a regular basis. Gomati riverbed remains navigable for less than four months a year, that too only during monsoon days.
  • For the rest of the year, scanty rainfall in the hills results in low volume while accumulating sediments raise the average riverbed, rendering Gomati even shallower. In comparison, the inland waterway route with Bangladesh at Karimganj in Assam operates small ships to large boats for nearly six months a year.

Source: Indian Express