Agartala, Nov 29 (IANS) The BBIN Friendship Motor Car Rally, organised to promote an agreement on uninterrupted cargo movement in the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) region, on Saturday left the Tripura capital for Bangladeshi port city Chittagong after travelling through India’s northeastern states.
Tripura chief secretary Y.P. Singh flagged off the third leg of the car rally at a function here.
The car rally, comprising 77 participants — three women and 74 men — are travelling in 20 SUVs. They reached here on Friday night after travelling through Assam and Meghalaya, and were given a warm reception by officials of the Tripura government.
The rally will enter Bangladesh through south Tripura’s Belonia border town for Chittagong, and then proceed to Dhaka.
The car rally will culminate in Kolkata on December 2. It covered the capitals of Jharkhand, Bihar, Sikkim, Bhutan, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and finally through Chittagong and Dhaka.
Earlier this month, one cargo and one passenger vehicle on trial under the same agreement entered Tripura from Kolkata via Dhaka.
The first leg of the rally, jointly organised by the Kalinga Motor Sports Club of Odisha in partnership with clubs from the neighbouring countries and the union road transport and highways ministry, was flagged off from Bhubaneswar on November 15.
The BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement aims to ensure that goods laden vehicles of each country ply uninterrupted through designated corridors.
The cargo transportation initiative would reduce the distance between Kolkata and Agartala by nearly two thirds — from 1,550 km to 640 km.
The Motor Vehicles Agreement was signed on June 15 in Bhutan’s capital Thimphu. The draft protocol, finalised on September 8-9, 2015, in Dhaka, is expected to be signed by officials at a conference to be held shortly in northern West Bengal’s Siliguri town.
The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is acting as the secretariat of the BBIN platform.
Bangladesh’s deputy secretary for home ministry Nirod Chandra Mandal, Nepal’s representative Dasharath Bishal and Bhutan’s representative Teshiang Rinjen are among the people travelling with the rally.
Mandal said that once the BBIN agreement is implemented, it would lead to economic integration of the region.
“Earlier, along with our visa, we had to take a separate car travel permit for entering another country, be it from India to Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan or vice versa and it was very tough to enter with cargo,” said Arun Bhatia, a member of the rally team representing Kolkata.
“But once this treaty is implemented, if anyone wants to enter any of these nations, he/she shall be able to get spot permission from the border entry point. So the process is becoming very easy and will help in business and economy beside exchange of culture.”
India has for long pressed for using Bangladeshi rail and road networks, waterways and ports, especially for easy transport of Indian goods from Kolkata to the northeast.
To save time, costs and to avoid transportation hitches through the mountainous terrain, the Food Corporation of India had recently ferried over 35,000 tonnes of rice from various parts of India to Tripura via Bangladeshi waterways and surface roads.