India Eyes Operational Control of Bangladesh’s Mongla Port Amidst Strategic Rivalry with China

As China strategizes to gain control of the crucial Mongla Port in Bangladesh, India is also making plans to take over the operational prowess of the port and construct a new terminal. The move is being seen as a counter to China’s efforts to exert influence over the port. The success of these negotiations would mark Mongla as the third international seaport operated by India, following the Chabahar Port in Iran and the Sittwe Port in Myanmar, both managed by India Ports Global Limited (IPGL).

IPGL is a special-purpose vehicle promoted by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Deendayal Port Trust (DPT). While it was initially established for the development and management of the Shahid Beheshti Port (Chabahar, Iran), it will also work on Mongla Port if India secures operational control. This would further significantly enhance India’s strategic presence across the Indian Ocean, providing access to ports in both its western and eastern regions.

India already enjoys transshipment access to both Chittagong and Mongla ports, which facilitates cargo movement to its northeastern states, bypassing the long 1,650-kilometre “chicken’s neck” corridor. Acquiring Mongla Port would further strengthen India’s connectivity and strategic reach in the region.

A delegation from IPGL visited Mongla Port last month to assess its operational facilities and has been asked to submit a comprehensive proposal to the Mongla Port Authority. This proposal will be evaluated for its profitability and, if deemed viable, forwarded to the government for a final decision.

Mongla Port, one of Bangladesh’s three seaports, is noted for its eco-friendly operations. Located in the southwestern part of Bangladesh, it is strategically positioned at the confluence of the Possur River and Mongla Nulla, just upstream from the Bay of Bengal. The port currently handles container and bulk carrier vessels at its five jetties, with plans to construct two additional jetties to manage increased cargo volumes from transshipment facilities provided to India, Nepal, and Bhutan.


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