Although Bangladesh’s waterways carry tremendous economic and geostrategic significance for both Bangladesh and India, environmental management issues have rendered most of these routes useless. Bangladesh and India signed a protocol for using the waterways to carry goods in 1972. However, only three of the designated 11 routes are in regular use at present, as most of the routes lack depth for the navigability of large vessels. Some are used irregularly, while others are not even used once a year. Bangladesh stands to gain a number of economic advantages if these routes are used regularly. It could potentially provide various services to Indian vessels during their voyage, which would facilitate growth in the service industry and expand logistics businesses. Bangladesh has also long been looking to increase exports to the northeastern states of India, which the 1972 protocol has the potential to facilitate. For India, the use of the waterways has geostrategic significance as well. Geographically, mainland India is separated from its northeastern states by Bangladesh and is only connected via a narrow 4-kilometer (2.5-mile) corridor. India’s primary interest in the protocol is to efficiently connect its northeast with the main hinterland by using the waterways. Poor navigability, however, stands in the way. Only about 5,995 km (3,725 mi) of Bangladesh’s waterways are navigable by mechanized vessels during the monsoon season and during the dry season, the number dwindles to 3,865 km (2,400 mi) — just a portion of the country’s 24,000 km (2,400 mi) of all waterways, according to the…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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