The delegation, led by Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma, placed this demand on Wednesday during the Indo-Bangladesh joint trade exchange conference in Dhaka.
Replying to this proposal, mooted by Assam’s PHE minister Gautam Roy, Bangladesh commerce minister G.M. Kadir said the matters would figure in the Indo-Bangladesh Joint River Commission at one of its meetings in July in Dhaka.
Roy, who was in Dhaka early this week to attend the third Indo-Bangladesh trade fair, also raised this demand of dredging of the rivers during the delegation’s meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at her official residence yesterday.
During the meeting with Hasina, Roy raised other demands, including the reopening of the 42km Mahisashan (in Karimganj district)-Kulaura railway line, establishment of a visa office in Guwahati, setting up of a border hut in Suterkandi in Karimganj district.
The issue of dredging some of the river networks in Bangladesh has been hanging fire between the two nations for many years. New Delhi has even suggested that it is willing to foot the bills.
The Centre has agreed to allot Rs 100 crore to drill into the Ichamati for dredging to ensure that round the river could be navigated round the year and use Bholaganj river port in Bangladesh.
Moreover, the shallow riverbeds of the Kushiara and Meghna in Sayesthaganj and Sahazabpur in Bangladesh have affected the river traffic on Karimganj-Calcutta route, where the sailing of the vessels is only possible during the monsoon.
According to an official report, Indian traders had exported to Bangladesh a number of articles, including the coal from Jowai worth Rs 33 crore last year, the Bangladesh had imported to south Assam goods worth Rs 3 crore.
While India had sent though Assam’s Suterkandi and Karimganj town articles as coal, stainless steel, sanitary items, marble tiles, orange and ceramic wares, the Bangladesh has been importing to this region commodities like fruit juice, synthetic drinks, cement, hilsa, dry fish, toiletries, melamine products and dry cell batteries.