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Rice ferrying to Tripura starts via Kolkata-Bangladesh route

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  1 April 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Agartala, March 31: The government-owned Food Corporation of India (FCI) on Tuesday started ferrying rice for Tripura from Kolkata via Bangladesh as train services have been stopped in the north-east region of India due to gauge conversion works, an official said.

“Today (Tuesday) 10 Bangladeshi trucks carrying 16 to 17 tonnes each arrived here. Carrying of rice for Tripura would continue during the next few days,” an FCI official said.

He said: “In this phase, 10,000 tonnes of rice would be ferried from Kolkata to Tripura via Bangladesh. Several ships carried the rice from Kolkata to Ashuganj port in Bangladesh. From Ashuganj port, Bangladeshi trucks ferried the rice to FCI warehouses in ndangar, near Agartala,” the official added.

Train services in Tripura, Manipur, Mizoram and southern Assam have been suspended since last October for the two-phase track conversion, from metre-gauge to broad-gauge, being undertaken by the Northeast Frontier Railways and scheduled to end in March 2016.

The first phase, covering a 210 km route — Lumding-Silchar (in southern Assam) line — has been completed and the iugural goods train carrying about 2,300 tonnes of potatoes from West Bengal reached Silchar on March 27.

According to NFR officials, the gauge conversion work on the Silchar-Agartala section would be completed by March next year.

Tripura Food and Civil Supplies Minister Bhanulal Saha told IANS: “The FCI informed us that it would transport another 10,000 tonnes of rice for Tripura via Bangladesh this week.”

He said: “The Tripura government has urged the central government to carry rice for the state regularly via Bangladesh till the railway’s gauge conversion works are completed. We want to create a buffer stock of food grain in Tripura before the beginning of the monsoon in June.”

The monsoon starts in June and continues up to September creating a problem in ferrying food grains, essentials and other goods from other parts of India to the north-east via the mountainous roads, as the areas are highly prone to landslide.

The FCI last year ferried 10,000 tonnes of rice in two phases to Tripura from Visakhapatm port in Andhra Pradesh via Bangladesh.

“Ships carried the rice from Visakhapatm port to Kolkata port, then to Ashuganj port in Bangladesh. From Ashuganj port, Bangladeshi trucks ferried the rice to FCI warehouses in ndangar,” the FCI official said, adding that the rice is being carried from Kolkata instead of Visakhapatm to save time and costs. Ashuganj port on Megh river in Bangladesh is 57 km from Tripura capital Agartala.

The FCI has decided to carry a total of 35,000 tonnes of rice in different phases for Tripura via Bangladesh by this year’s end.

The eight north-eastern states, including Sikkim, are largely dependent on Punjab, Harya and other larger states in India for food grains and essential commodities.

The central government has also floated bids to import rice from Myanmar for Manipur and Mizoram.

After Tripura, it is likely that food grains will be ferried in a similar way to other north-eastern states as well, the FCI official said. (IANS)

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