The Kolkata Port Authority has approached Customs, Kolkata, seeking approval to initiate transshipment operations for dry bulk cargo destined for export to Bangladesh. This move marks a significant expansion of the port’s operations, which had previously been limited to transshipping liquid cargo. However, the proposal has raised concerns with Customs officials due to the unique challenges presented by dry bulk cargo.

Until now, Kolkata Port has specialized in handling transshipment of liquid cargo, such as Propane and Butane, which is comparatively easier to manage, as it can be transferred between vessels or barges securely without the risk of theft. However, the transshipment of dry bulk cargo presents different challenges, primarily the risk of theft during transit to Bangladesh.

Customs officials are apprehensive about monitoring the safety and quantity of dry bulk cargo during transit. Unlike liquid cargo, dry bulk cargo can be susceptible to pilferage if not adequately supervised. Moreover, there is currently no mechanism in place for Kolkata Customs to receive information from their counterparts in Bangladesh regarding the cargo’s safe arrival and quantity verification.

To address these concerns and pave the way for the expansion of transshipment operations to include dry bulk cargo, Customs officials from India are engaged in discussions with their counterparts in Bangladesh. The goal is to establish a robust system for the exchange of information regarding the cargo’s status after its arrival in Bangladesh.

Mr. Raman, Chairman of the Kolkata Port, emphasized the port’s successful transshipment operations in the past year, which saw a substantial increase from 2.36 million metric tons (MMT) to 4.6 MMT. Notably, the majority of the cargo transshipped was in the form of liquid cargo, such as Propane and Butane.

The concerns expressed by Customs about the potential theft of dry bulk cargo are well-founded. This type of cargo is vulnerable to pilferage, especially when not adequately monitored and secured during transit. The absence of reliable information from Bangladesh Customs regarding cargo arrival and quantity verification poses logistical challenges.

However, the ongoing dialogue between Indian and Bangladeshi Customs authorities to establish a mechanism for information exchange is a positive step towards resolving these concerns. Such a mechanism would not only enhance cargo security but also facilitate the expansion of trade between India and Bangladesh, creating job opportunities and contributing to economic growth in both nations.

The Kolkata Port’s request for Customs clearance to initiate dry bulk cargo transshipment is a significant development with the potential to strengthen trade ties between the two countries.