Agartala, Sep 20 After the first round of shipment of diesel and cooking gas to Tripura via Bangladesh on September 10, India will ferry more petroleum products through the same route over the next two weeks, officials here said on Tuesday.
"Twelve LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas)-laden trucks would carry the cooking gas from Guwahati to northern Tripura via Bangladesh on September 23. This would be the second consignment of petroleum products being carried through Bangladesh," an official of the Indian Oil Corporation Ltd (IOCL) said.
"On September 10, nine tank trucks carrying 108 kilolitres of diesel and kerosene, along with one LPG truck, travelled from Betkutchi near Guwahati via Dawki, Meghalaya's border point with Bangladesh, to Tamabil and Chatlapur in Bangladesh, and reached Kailasahar and Dharmanagar in northern Tripura, plying 136 km through Bangladesh territory."
Bangladesh had earlier allowed India to ferry heavy machinery of the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) and carry foodgrains to Tripura.
"The special arrangement of carrying petroleum products was made due to the difficulties faced in carrying petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas through the National Highways linking Tripura," the official added.
To carry these products, IOCL, under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas of India, and the Roads & Highways Department (RHD) of Bangladesh had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in Dhaka on August 18.
The IOCL official said this route via Bangladesh would save time and cost in carrying petroleum products from Assam to Tripura, as the existing over 400km mountainous route requires many hours to carry these essential items.
"Besides, the condition of National Highways in Meghalaya and southern Assam is horrifying. Between May and August, Tripura was almost cut off and road transportation in southern Assam, Mizoram and western Manipur was badly disrupted due to damaged roads in the region," the official said.
Speaking on the new arrangement in Guwahati, IOCL Executive Director Dipankar Ray said: "This move by IOCL not only paves the way for future logistics management but also exemplifies its commitment to ensuring energy accessibility in the country."
A statement from the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said Bangladesh has granted permission for the movement of petroleum goods through its territory on humanitarian grounds.
The short-term India-Bangladesh deal on the shipping of petroleum products is valid until September 30.
The MoU paves way for India to carry petroleum goods (motor spirit, high-speed diesel, superior kerosene oil and LPG) from Assam to Tripura through Bangladesh to create a buffer stock in the northeastern state.
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has transported 23,000 tonnes of rice in three phases since 2014 from Kolkata to Tripura via Bangladesh using that country's Ashuganj River Port, which is about 50 km from Tripura.
In 2012, Bangladesh had allowed state-owned ONGC to ferry heavy machinery, turbines and over-dimensional cargoes through Ashuganj port for the 726 MW Palatana Mega Power Project in southern Tripura.
There is only a narrow land corridor to the northeastern region through Assam and West Bengal that passes through hilly terrain with steep gradients and multiple hairpin bends, making transportation, especially of loaded trucks, very difficult.
Agartala via Guwahati is 1,650 km from Kolkata by road, and 2,637 km from New Delhi. But the distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just 620 km.
Indo-Asian News Service