Bangladesh has signed an accord to finalise transhipment deal with India to allow Indian goods to be transported to its northeastern Tripura State.

Bangladesh Shipping Secretary Abdul Mannan Hawladar confirmed the signing of the accord on Monday. “I have just signed the agreement declaring Ashuganj as a new port of call,” he told the official news agency BSS. Through this accord, heavy Indian consignments for the Palatana power Project in Tripura will be transported through Bangladesh.

Under this deal, in line with the decision reached during Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's visit to India in January this year, Bangladesh's Ashuganj port would be the second transhipment point and fifth port of call in Bangladesh.

India has already declared Shilghat as the port of call.

The Indian government sent the signed-up agreement last week to be countersigned by Dhaka. New Delhi had been seeking to let them use Ashuganj, 49 km off the Tripura border, as a transhipment point since 1980s. Earlier reports said the Shipping Ministry has already formulated a Tk 2.5-billion project to make Ashuganj well equipped to handle the heavy Indian cargoes. The project is expected to complete by 2013.

The Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority officials said preparations were under way to transform Ashuganj into a modern port and renovate the 49 km- road from the port to the Tripura border, with New Delhi bearing the cost.

The officials said Bangladesh decided to consider its decision as “test case” to allow New Delhi to use its territory, responding to the long Indian request for transit. Dhaka will then move with other proposals of various modes.

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