The Indian Navy completed its first-ever exercise in inland waters on Sunday by charting a route for its boats along river Matla in the Sunderbans. This is the Indo-Bangladesh trade protocol route and the Navy has always been apprehensive of barges moving along it unchecked.
Till now, the Navy had operated at sea. This was the first time its boats entered the Sunderbans for the exercise named ‘Matla Abhiyan’.
“The coastal security exercise led by Captain Joydeep Chakraborty was flagged off from Kolkata on Wednesday. On Sunday, the two boats were flagged in by Commodore Suprobho K De, naval officer-in-charge, West Bengal, at the Man of War Jetty. The boats not only patrolled the protocol route (till Hemnagar on the Indian side) but also interrogated fishing boats, tankers and launches operating on the Matla, river Hooghly and the narrow creeks of the Sunderbans. During the patrol the boats stopped first at Namkhana, where sailors interacted with local fishermen. Thereafter, the crew interacted with marine police stations at Maipith, Gobardhanpur and Gosaba enroute to Hemnagar,” a senior naval official in Kolkata said.
At Hemnagar, the naval detachment interacted with Inland Waterways Authority of India and Customs officials. Chakraborty and his team also visited a school and interacted with students and teachers, distributing pamphlets about the Navy and details of how to join. The vessels left Hemnagar on Saturday and met BSF boat at the zero point along the Indo-Bangladesh border.
The naval boats were escorted by IWAI vessel Meghna, highlighting the strong inter-agency coordination among various stakeholders. IWAI vessels are used to the protocol route. Meghna also provided logistical support to the boats.
“Given the impetus being given to inland water transport, this exercise was very crucial. Now, barges primarily carry fly ash from India to Bangladesh along this route. Very soon, vessels will pass through the Sunderbans with all sort of cargo and enter the Brahmaputra through Bangladesh for easier transportation to the northeastern states,” the official added.
Source: Times of India