Inland Waterways: In A First, IWAI Vessel On Brahmaputra River To Deliver Bhutanese Cargo To BangladeshInland water transport is cheaper, environment-friendly and more efficient than rail and road. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

In an unprecedented development, the Minister of State (MoS) for Shipping Mansukh Mandaviya on Friday (12 July) flagged off a vessel from Assam's Dhubri to Bangladesh's Narayanganj, carrying 1,000 MT of Bhutanese stone, reports Asian News International (ANI).

The vessel would criss-cross through the waters of Brahmaputra river to complete the voyage. This gains significance as it is the first time in history that an Indian waterway has been used as a channel for transport of cargo between two nations. The ship is carrying 1,000 MT of stones, to transport which, otherwise, 70 trucks would have been required.

The stones were first transported from Phuentsholing in Bhutan to Assam's Dhubri Jetty run by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) by trucks, covering 160 kilometers. Thereafter the cargo was loaded onto the vessel and dispatched.

This has reduced the cost of transportation of the stones from Bhutan to Bangladesh by 30 per cent, while also cutting short the duration of transportation time by eight to 10 days.

Chairman of the IWAI said, at least 10 other National Waterways are under development at the moment. The government is undertaking various initiatives to increase the usage of inland waterways and coastal shipping for greater cargo shipments.

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