KOLKATA: Cargo movement be ween the city and Agartala turned seamless on Sunday with the introduction of the regional free trade agreement -the Bangladesh-Bhu an-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement. The first truck, which was flagged off from Nabanna, would pass through Bangladesh and travel just 640 kms, instead of he usual 1550kms route, to reach Agartala in less than half the time t would take earlier. 

The agreement, signed on June 15, 2015, means transshipment of cargo wouldn't be required at nternational borders and vehicles of each country would run uninterrupted through designated corridors. 

"The cargo vehicles used to travel 1550 kms. Now it will travel only 640 km. The BBIN agreement will not only save time, but will also reduce cost considerably , said Vijay Chhibber, Union secretary for road transport and highways who flagged off the first cargo truck on Sunday . 

Cargo vehicles, in the current system, can be tracked electronically and permits are issued online and sent electronically across to all land ports. It contains an electronic seal that alerts regulators every time the container door is opened. 

Chhibber added that trial runs for making the India-MyanmarThailand (I-M-T) trilateral high way operational will begin around December this year. The highway connects a 3,000-km stretch from Moreh to Thailand. The protocols, between nations, are yet to be signed. 

"The protocol is expected to be signed by officials of four countries shortly at Siliguri in North Bengal with Asian Development Bank (ADB) acting as the secretariat of the BBIN platform," state principal secretary (transport) Alapan Bandopadhyay said. 

Chhibber added that the pilot run would help SAARC nations to finalize the protocol that is to be followed and also bring to light the hurdles that the road connectivity project can face. The Indian government has chosen global logistics company DHL Global Forwarding for the pilot run. "It will immensely help people of all these nations.This is seen in Europe; there is no reason why our people cannot have such facilities," he added. 

The Centre, Chhibber said, will also look to initiate trial runs for the Kolkata-Khulna (in Bangladesh) bus service from December 2."It is a journey that presages and promises seamless cross-border movement of people and goods across countries, and, of course, a new era of economic development and commercial cooperation," said CII eastern region chairman A K Verma.

 

Source : The Times of India

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