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Need for change

“We are working on enhancing the waterway connectivity between India and Nepal. Currently, the cargo that comes to Kolkata or Vizag has to go by road or rail to Nepal. This is because the trade comprise recognises only these two modes of transport. The clause is being modified to include waterways,” Pandey told newspersons on the side lines of the Inland Waterways Summit organised by the Indian Chamber of Commerce here on Friday. The Commerce ministries of India and Nepal have engaged the lead in bringing in the amendment.

Routes identified

A high-level delegation of officials from Customs, and Commerce and External Affairs ministries visited Nepal in April to discuss the routes that can be taken for transit of cargo using waterways. The routes identified are Kolkata-Sahebganj by waterway and then to Nepal’s Biratnagar by road; Kolkata-Kalughat near Patna by waterway and then to Birgunj by road; and Kolkata-Varanasi by waterway and then to either Nepalganj or Mahendra Nagar by road. “Three water routes have been accepted by both the countries.

There is in-principle approval of all these agencies of India and Nepal on the three routes,” he said. These apart, the Nepal government has requested India to explore whether the Gondak river could be used as a waterway right up to the border of these two countries. However, this will call for technical studies to understand if ships of larger size can move through Gondak up to Nepal, Pandey said.