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Bangladesh: Coal import from India comes to a sudden halt

Coal import from India’s Meghalaya state to Bangladesh has stopped following an order of the Supreme Court in the neighbouring country.

The coal import was supposed to continue till January 31 but came to a halt suddenly on January 15, according to Paritosh Ghosh, assistant director for traffic at Tamabil land port.

“This has created a huge trouble for the coal importers.”

The SC of India on Tuesday banned the transportation of coal in the state until the next hearing on February 19.

Bangladesh imports coal from India through Barchhara, Charagaon and Bagli border check posts in Sunamganj and Tamabil land port in Sylhet.

Following a case filed by the Indian National Green Tribunal stating that the coal mines in Meghalaya are not maintaining rules, the SC, in 2014, ordered to stop mining in the state. Since then, coal import from Meghalaya has become irregular.

After various periods of closure and open, the SC cleared the way for coal exports from December 22 last year to January 31, leading coal importers in Bangladesh to open letters of credit (LCs) to import 1 lakh tonnes.

Falah Uddin Ali Ahmed, a former president of the Sylhet Coal Importers Group, said the order halted imports of 50,000 tonnes of coal against which LCs were opened.

“As we have to pay interest for the LCs, importers are about to face a great loss.”

He said small importers mainly bring in coal from India and they are suffering the most. There are about 2,000 small importers involved in coal imports, he said.

In the past, Bangladesh used to import 26 lakh to 27 lakh tonnes of coal annually from India, but it came down to 4-5 lakh tonnes recently as India allowed coal exports for a definite time slot, according to Ahmed.

Chandan Saha, president of the Sylhet Coal Importers Group, said many coal-laden trucks bound for Bangladesh have been stranded on the Indian side. The value of the stranded coal was about Tk 100 crore.

“Indian exporters have filed writ with the Supreme Court which, we hope, will clear the way for coal imports.”
Source: The Daily Star

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