Kolkata Port Trust has aggressively conditioned itself to work around challenges typical to a riverine port system, while taking advantage of its location. The state is a front runner in not only using inland waterways for moving cargo, but also for transhipment of Bangladesh cargo to global markets. Kolkata has emerged as the biggest trade hub of eastern India.
The eastern region of India urgently needs an infrastructure makeover due to the herculean logistics challenges these states share to move cargo even within the mainland. The upcoming power projects, refineries and industries in this region will boost cargo movement which cannot be handled by rail or road alone. The difficult land terrain and presence of national waterway-2 point at the immense potential for developing multimodal logistics in this region. These waterways also connect the north-eastern states to Kolkata. These states perform well in production of horticulture, but due to lack of storage, warehousing, and transport facilities movement of goods to the outer world is restricted. Further, as these north-eastern states due to their geographic location also hold the key to open up greater trade opportunities with neighbouring ASEAN countries, a multi-modal cargo transport approach can immensely help in improving India’s trade with Southeast Asia. After several challenges, delays, regulatory bottlenecks, lukewarm response from trade, finally coastal shipping is picking up and allowing foreign vessels to carry transhipment cargo on Indian coast has become the game changer. Bangladesh along with other landlocked countries like Nepal and Bhutan have immense potential to access and tranship their cargo via Indian transhipment hubs.