Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal received the maiden voyage of 200 MT foodgrains from Patna to Pandu via Bangladesh in Guwahati on Sunday (6 March). Chief Minister of Assam, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, and Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) were also present on the occasion to welcome the vessel carrying the foodgrains for the Food Corporation of India (FCI).
As it completed the maiden pilot run from Patna to Pandu via Bangladesh. IWAI is planning to run a fixed schedule sailing between National Waterway-1 (River Ganga) and National Waterway-2 (River Brahmaputra) heralding a new age of inland water transport for Assam and Northeast India.
The vessel started its sail from Patna on National Waterway-1 and passed through Farakka, Kolkata, Haldia, Hemnagar; Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route through Khulna, Chilmari, and National Waterway-2 through Dhubri, and Jogighopa covering a distance of 2,350 km.
“This historic feat will usher a new era of growth for all the states of Northeast India. The waterways will cut through the landlocked access which has been crippling development in the region for long. The waterways not only removes this geographical hindrance on the road of progress in the region but also provides an economical, swift and convenient transportation for the businesses and people of the region,” the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) said.
“Today marks the beginning of a new age of inland water transport in Assam. This is going to provide the business community a viable, economic and ecological alternative,” said Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
In line with the ‘Act East’ policy, MoPSW has taken up several infrastructure projects on National Waterways-1, Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route, and National Waterways-2, through the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
These steps will improve the connectivity with the North Eastern Region (NER) through waterways. The Government has already undertaken the ambitious Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) with an investment of about Rs 4,600 crore for the capacity augmentation of NW-1 (River Ganga) for safe and sustainable movement of vessels up to 2,000 tonnes.
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