Inclusive cross-border trade in Meghna basin in South Asia

About the Study:

The Gomti and Haora rivers of Tripura have better navigability compared to Brahmaputra in Dhubri- Chilmari and Barak in Karimganj- Zakiganj locations. In these rivers mechanised boats can be used for transhipment of cargo from Agartala to Ashuganj and vice-versa. The surge in the use of mechanised boats transportation will not only promote boat building and associated sectors in the rural areas but with the involvement of local people in freight handling and small scale industries, the economy of the locality also has the potential to grow substantially.

Apart from inland navigation, eco- tourism seems to be another prospective area to engage local people to improve their livelihoods. Chabimura, is famous for its rock carving on steep mountain wall on the bank of river Gomti, Tripura is known for adventure tourism. Similarly, Umngot river, Dawki is widely known for its crystal clear water and living roots which attract tourists. It will be interesting to understand how these locations support the livelihoods of marginalised communities and the prospects of cross border tourism.

Keeping this view, an evidence based research study on the prospects of cross border navigation and eco-tourism in the rivers of Barak, Haora and Gomti and its economic benefits, particularly livelihood gains, is being proposed.

Goals and Objectives:

The objectives of this study are:

  • To create evidences on the economic, social and environmental implications of cross border trade using mechanised boats in shorter transboundary stretches in Barak, Gomti and Haora rivers of Meghna basin
  • To understand the impact of river cruise tourism on political-economy factors at the local level with special emphasis on community based tourism in Gomti and Umngot river

Project Area:

India (Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya) and Bangladesh (Zakiganj)


November, 2018 – April, 2019


The activities and methodology include desk research. field research and one-to-one advocacy meetings.

Expected outcomes :-

  • Create better understanding of the riverine communities and the challenges faced by them, and collection of data on commodities that are currently traded through Land Custom Stations, agricultural / industrial produce.
  • Validation of secondary data; generate evidence that would support policy advocacy on inland navigation related to regulatory and governance issues, identification of tradable commodities, the economics of trade via waterways, case studies. The case studies would capture the livelihood issues of rural women and marginalised communities pertaining to inland navigation and tourism sectors.
  • The dissemination strategy would inform the stakeholders, create stakeholder buy-in and political backing for the proposed cross border trade using mechanised boats as well as river tourism.