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India for the first time on Saturday transported petroleum products through Bangladesh to Tripura, officials said.
Tripura Industries and Commerce Minister Tapan Chakraborty and other state and central government officials received the tanker trucks at Kailashahar along the India-Bangladesh border at around 11 p.m. on Saturday. Bangladesh had earlier allowed India to ferry heavy machineries of the Oil and Natural Gas Corp (ONGC) and carry foodgrains to Tripura.
"Indian Oil Corp Ltd (IOCL) today transported petroleum products from Assam to Tripura through Bangladesh," an IOCL official said. "The special arrangement was taken due to the difficulties faced in carrying petrol, diesel, kerosene and cooking gas through the national highways linking Tripura," the official added.
The official said nine tank trucks carrying 108 kl of diesel and kerosene along with one LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas) truck travelled from Betkutchi near Guwahati to Dawki, Meghalaya's border point with Bangladesh, and then on to Tamabil and Chatlapur in Bangladesh, eventually reaching Kailasahar and Dharmanagar in north Tripura.
The trucks reached the Dharmanagar IOCL depot on Saturday night after plying 136 km in Bangladesh. To carry these products, the IOCL under the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas of India and the Roads and Highways Department (RHD) of Bangladesh had signed MoU in Dhaka on August 18.
"This new route via Bangladesh would save time and costs in carrying petroleum products from Assam to Tripura as the existing over 400 km of mountainous route required more than 10 hours to carry these essential items," the official had said.
"Besides, the condition of national highways in Meghalaya and southern Assam is horrifying," the official added. The short-term India-Bangladesh deal on shipping of the petroleum products is valid till September 30.
"This move by IOCL not only paves the way for future logistic management but also exemplifies its commitment to be the energy accessibility of India in true sense," said IOCL Executive Director Dipankar Ray. A statement of the Indian High Commission in Dhaka said that Bangladesh has granted permission for the movement of petroleum goods on humanitarian grounds through its territory.
The MoU will facilitate India to carry petroleum goods (Motor Spirit, High Speed Diesel, Superior Kerosene Oil and LPG) from Assam to Tripura through Bangladesh to make a buffer stock in the northeastern state. The Food Corp of India had transported 2,350 tonnes of rice earlier this month from Kolkata to Tripura via Bangladesh.
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. The distance between Agartala and Kolkata via Bangladesh is just 620 km.
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