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Linking India-Bangladesh land borders through ICPs

PUNJAB NEWS EXPRESS | January 28, 2022 06:20 PM


The absence of adequate infrastructure is to blame for South Asia's appalling level of regional integration, which stands at just 5% according to the World Bank. As a result, logistics costs have risen, raising the overall cost of trading in the region. Different types of border management infrastructure, such as Land Customs Stations (LCSs), Immigration Check Posts (ImCPs), and consolidated facilities like Integrated Check Posts (ICPs) and other border-trade centers, help India’s land border trade with Bangladesh.

The ICPs are land border entrance and departure points that house a variety of facilities like as customs, immigration, border security, and quarantine, among others, all inside a single facilitation zone. In 2019-20, the ICPs accounted for 40% of India's entire commerce with Bangladesh.
Status of India – Bangladesh ICPs

Bangladesh is presently India's fifth-largest trading partner, with land trade accounting for almost 75 percent of total trade. The four active ICPs located at Petrapole, Agartala, Sutarkandi, and Srimantapur handle the majority of this commerce. Two ICPs (in Agartala and Petrapole, respectively) were formally launched in 2013 and 2016.

ICP Petrapole is the largest land port in South Asia, located along the international boundary between India and Bangladesh. It is located about 80 kilometers from Kolkata, West Bengal's capital. In terms of trade and passenger traffic, Petrapole (India)-Benapole (Bangladesh) is a major land border crossing for India and Bangladesh. ICP Petrapole is responsible for over 30% of land-based traffic between India and Bangladesh. Since its launch in February 2016, the ICP has seen a steady increase in passenger traffic, with an average of 2.2 million (22 lakh) persons crossing the border post each year on both sides.

The ICP Agartala is the most major international trading land port in northeast India, with an average of 80-100 trucks filled with various trade commodities arriving in Tripura from Bangladesh every day. Every day, trades of Rs 3 to 4 crore take place through ICP Agartala on average.
Impact and Challenges

By combining all of the relevant agencies under one roof and therefore significantly organizing the processes, the ICPs have altered border crossing between India and Bangladesh. Cross-border transportation has grown easier and less time-consuming where the facilities are operational. Passengers at the checks in Agartala and Petrapole reported better conditions.

It's also important to overcome a number of existing problems at India-Bangladesh ICPs that obstruct smooth connectivity. These issues include a lack of digitization at both countries' ICPs, port limits due to a lack of cargo-handling infrastructure, and quarantine restrictions, among others. In particular, the lack of a mirror ICP infrastructure increases trade hurdles, limiting the convenience of conducting business.

Way Forward
The ICPs on the India–Bangladesh border show India's desire to provide world-class amenities at the border checkpoint in order to boost trade and connectivity with its neighbor. The Agartala and Petrapole ICPs have resulted in significant progress, but there is still much more work to be done. The government may learn from current ICPs to avoid repeating their weaknesses and, as a result, improve those that are still being constructed. Effective ICPs will be critical in the future for India's trade and connection with Bangladesh. As a result, India must concentrate on modernizing facilities on a regular basis.

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