Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on Thursday flagged off the first trial container ship from Kolkata carrying cargo meant for Agartala that will reach the city via Chattogram port in Bangladesh, an official statement said.
After reaching Chattogram, the consignment will move to Agartala on Bangladeshi trucks, the Ministry of Shipping said in the statement.
With the move, the northeastern region of India will now be connected by seaports in Bangladesh.
Shipping Minister Mandaviya "today flagged off the first trial container ship from Kolkata to Agartala through Chattogram Port of Bangladesh, in a virtual ceremony", the statement said.
This has been done under the agreement on use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of India's transit cargo through Bangladesh.
Terming it a "historical achievement", Mandaviya said the route will open doors of new opportunities for both the countries.
It will provide an alternative and shorter route to connect the northeastern region through Bangladesh, he said.
Mandaviya said this is a historic move to utilise Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of India's transit cargo. It will be a new chapter in India-Bangladesh maritime relations, he added.
The consignment of the trial movement includes two TEUs (twenty foot equivalent units) carrying TMT steel bars destined for West Tripura district and two TEUs carrying pulses for Karimganj, Assam.
"The trial runs highlight the efforts that both sides have undertaken to strengthen the connectivity between Bangladesh and the North Eastern states of India, as per the understanding reached between the two countries at the highest level, during the visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to India in October 2019, when the Standard Operating Procedures for the use of Chattogram and Mongla ports for movement of goods to and from India, were concluded," the statement said.
This movement further strengthens the long-standing partnership between India and Bangladesh, it added.
It will reduce distance and time taken in transportation of goods for India and is a win-win for both the economies, the statement said, adding job creation, investment in the logistical sector, enhanced business services and revenue generation are advantages that will accrue to Bangladesh.
Bangladeshi vessels and trucks will be utilised to move the Indian cargo.
India and Bangladesh have enhanced cooperation in shipping and inland water trade in the recent years.
Under the Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade, in addition to the six existing Ports of Call, five more in each country have been added recently.
Dredging of inland waterway routes is ongoing under a pact signed by the two countries on development of fairway in selected stretches of Bangladesh waterways, with the Government of India bearing 80 per cent of the project expenditure and the balance being borne by the neighbouring country, it said.
Cruise services have also commenced between the two countries, promoting tourism and people-to-people contacts.