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Chittagong seaport, can break the northeast’s reliance on the “chicken’s neck,” unshackle trade: ADB

Connectivity key between India and Bangladesh to boost movement of goods

The Chittagong seaport can break the northeast's critical reliance on the "chicken's neck"–the narrow corridor that connects the region with the rest of India. It can also serve as the trans-shipment hub for India as it will connect the northeastern region (NER) with the rest of the country, says a report published by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). The repost points out that goods can be moved from Tripura's capital Agartala and Kolkata through Chittagong port–a channel that would be far more efficient when compared to the Siliguri Corridor, also called the "chicken's neck". 

In 2018, India and Bangladesh entered into a bilateral Agreement for the use of the Chattogram (Chittagong) and Mongla Ports (ACMP) to allow the movement of goods between the NER and the rest of India, says the report titled- Using Chattogram Port as a Trans-shipment Hub for the North Eastern Region of India.

Also read: India looks at its northeast as gateway to south and southeast Asia

The study also says that the scope of the agreement could be expanded to include cargo movement of the NER from other countries. Using the Chittagong port is a feasible option for the NER, especially southern Assam, Tripura, Manipur and Mizoram.

Boosting connectivity among the South Asian nations is being looked at by all governments.

“The South Asian countries have huge growth potential. All countries must focus on boosting economic co-operation and connectivity to leverage this,” Bipul Chatterjee, Executive Director, CUTS International told India Narrative.

According to Dhaka Tribune, India has already successfully completed a trial run through Chittagong port and is interested in carrying goods through the transhipment route, but the operations have not progressed any further due to the situation caused by the pandemic.

The ADB also said that both India and Bangladesh must focus on upgrading digital infrastructure at border points to ease logistics issues. It also noted that Bangladesh needs to expedite the development of new berths and backup infrastructure at Chattogram port to ease out the existing port congestion.

Bangladesh is also currently developing with Japanese assistance, the Matarbari deep water port with Japanese assistance. The futuristic port will be able to overcome the shallower depths of Chittagong port and allow ultra-large ships including oil tankers to berth.