There is a Protocol (agreement) between India & Bangladesh, under which vessels of either country can travel through specified river routes in the other country. Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh. There are four specific river routes and 5 ports of call in each country designated under the Protocol. The present Protocol is valid up to March 2020 with a clause for automatic renewal thereafter. These are as follows: -
- Kolkata – Haldia - Raimongal – Chalna – Khulna – Mongla – Kaukhali-Barisal – Hizla – Chandpur – Narayanganj – Aricha – Sirajganj – Bahadurabad – Chilmari – Dhubri – Pandu- Silghat; and vice versa (Total one way length: 1720 Km)
- Kolkata – Haldia - Raimongal – Mongla – Kaukhali – Barisal – Hizla - Chandpur – Narayanganj – Bhairab Bazar – Ajmiriganj – Markuli – Sherpur – Fenchuganj – Zakiganj – Karimganj; and vice versa (Total one way length: 1318 Km)
- Rajshahi – Godagari – Dhulian; and vice versa (Total one way length: 78 Km)
- Karimganj – Zakiganj – Fenchuganj – Sherpur – Markuli – Ajmiriganj - Bhairab Bazar – Narayanganj – Chandpur – Aricha – Siraganj – Bahadurabad – Chilmari – Dhubri – Pandu- Silghat; vice versa (Total one way length: 1416 Km)
The five ports of call in each country are as follows: -
Transportation of cargo through IBP route has been taking place regularly since many-many years. However, transportation of Indian transit cargo on these protocol routes reduced in last 40-15 years primarily due to less depth available in Sirajganj – Daikhowa & Ashuganj – Zakiganj stretch of IBP during non-monsoon months. Considering this, Government of India and Government of Bangladesh have recently agreed to undertake dredging work in these stretches (with 80% funding for Govt. of India). This initiative is expected to substantially enhance cargo movement by IWT mode between Haldia & Kolkata ports and Guwahati/Silchar and other locations along Brahmaputra and Barak rivers in Assam.