bbin-agreement

Source: The Daily Sta

Context: 

  • Bangladesh, India and Nepal have agreed on the text of the operating procedures for passenger vehicle movement in the sub-region under the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement (MVA) signed in June 2015, and will soon complete the internal approval processes for signing of the passenger protocol. 

Background:

  • The Union Cabinet had approved a proposal to sign the SAARC MVA during the SAARC Summit in Kathmandu in November 2014. Unfortunately, it could not be signed due to reservations of Pakistan. 
  • The SAARC declaration at the Kathmandu Summit in November 2014 also encouraged Member States to initiate regional and sub-regional measures to enhance connectivity.
  • Accordingly, it was considered appropriate that a sub-regional Motor Vehicle Agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal ie. BBIN MVA may be pursued.
  • About BBIN MVA: Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal have signed a sub-regional Motor Vehicle Agreement (MVA) in June 2015 for regulation of passenger, personnel and cargo vehicular traffic between the four BBIN countries. 
    • As per the agreement, member countries would allow vehicles registered in the other countries to enter their territory under certain terms and conditions. 
    • Customs and tariffs will be decided by the respective countries and these would be finalised at bilateral and trilateral forums.
    • Objective: The main objective of the agreement is to provide seamless people-to-people contact and enhance economic interaction by facilitating cross border movement of people and goods.
  • Right from the time the BBIN MVA was tabled for ratification, the draft legislation faced opposition in Bhutan. There have been fears of vehicular pollution and environmental degradation if trucks from neighbouring countries are given access to Bhutan.
  • A trial run of cargo transport between Kolkata and Agartala through Dhaka, reducing the distance by nearly two-thirds, was flagged as part of the Bangladesh-Bhutan-India-Nepal (BBIN) sub-regional initiative for uninterrupted cargo movement.

Challenges to the project

  • Bhutan’s environmental concerns due to the movement of passenger and cargo vehicles.
  • Travel restrictions at the border and lack of infrastructure at the borders.

Way forward 

  • Construction of inland Container Depots (ICDs)  at vantage locations can avoid loading and unloading at the roads.
  • The BBIN MVA should be aligned with the TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) Convention of the International Road Transport Union. It will help in streamlining cargo movement by decreasing the  physical verification and paper works.