State Minister for Foreign Affairs M Shahriar Alam on Wednesday said rivers are part of their common heritage which they must cherish for own nourishment.
Recalling his participation in the Asian Confluence NADI festivals, he said, "When we talk of the 54 transboundary rivers with India, we are talking of an opulent harvest of fusing culture, crafts and trade developed over generations.”
The State Minister was addressing the inaugural webinar of Asian Confluence NADI conversations organised by Asian Confluence, a premier Indian thinktank based in Shillong, India .
Indian High Commissioner to Bangladesh Riva Ganguly Das said the agreement on the use of Mongla and Chittagong ports and the recent second addendum in the India-Bangladesh protocol route will become a great enabler for the rejuvenation of livelihood and economy of the region.
She said these "mutually beneficial arrangements" will further strengthen the integration of supply chains and logistics sectors, generate employment and will spur investments in the logistics and services sector of Bangladesh such as finance, transport and insurance.
Furthermore, the High Commissioner said, Bangladesh will earn revenue as the cargo transit will be through the use of Bangladeshi trucks and through administrative and port fees.
She said the full potential of the multimodal connectivity projects will be realised in Narayanganj, Sirajganj, Mongla, Chilmari and Khulna enabling them to emerge as new economic hubs in Bangladesh”.
Ram Gopal Agarwal, Distinguished fellow NITI Aayog, Abdus Sammad, former Senior Shipping Secretary, Bangladesh and Dr Atiur Rahman, former governor of Bangladesh Bank also echoed on the theme that inland waterways bring part of a larger multimodal connectivity scheme to ensure cost effectiveness.
The northeastern states and Bangladesh can benefit immensely from this where there is immense possibility for growth in the agri- and farm sectors, they said.
The session was chaired by Deepa Gopalan Wadhwa, IFS Retd and a key voice in India’s strategic community .
Echoing an industry voice, Yasser Rizvi of Summit Group said that the “the new Daudkandi - Sonamura route has good potential and in order to maximize usage suitable transshipment points must be identified for handling goods to / from the smaller barges. Pangaon and SAPL Muktarpur are both suitable for this”.
Inland waterways development can not only become a vital and cost effective component of multimodal connectivity, but also a means to care for our shared riverine ecology and ensure sustainable development and livelihood generation for people on both sides of borders, said the speakers.
Healthy waterways as part of a larger multimodal connectivity setup can be ensured with healthy practices of water resource management, which is also a prerequisite for growth of the farm sector, they said.
The discussion had active participation from industry stakeholder and state level policy makers such as Amlan Basu, Managing Director AVS Group and Kiran Gitte, IAS secretary, Trade and Commerce, Tripura.
It was attended by more than 200 people comprising of scientific institutions such a IUCN, civil society, thinktanks and academia and has a large viewership on social media platforms.