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Shipping Ministry Approves ₹645 crores for 10 New Waterways projects on Brahmaputra in Assam.

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New Delhi, 15th of March 2024 : The Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal announced a major investment of more than ₹645 crores to develop 10 waterways projects under the flagship Sagarmala programme of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways. The projects will be implemented with 100% financial assistance from the central government to enhance terminals and riverine infrastructure along the river Brahmaputra (National Waterways 2) to boost connectivity and foster economic growth.

From the construction of slipways at strategic locations such as Maya Ghat in Dhubri district and Majuli district to the establishment of passenger terminals at Ghagor in North Lakhimpur district and Bahari in Barpeta district, each proposal is meticulously designed to enhance connectivity and facilitate seamless transportation across the region. Additional passenger terminals are set to be established in Goalpara, Guijan, Kurua, Dhubri, Disangmukh, and Matmora, catering to the diverse needs of different districts within Assam.These ten projects will enhance transportation efficiency, and stimulate industrial development and trade in the region.

Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, we are and have been trying to explore newer avenues and tap the immense potential of waterways in the country. Brahmaputra (NW 2) has been the lifeline for the people of northeast and Assam. Modiji gave us the direction to harness the power of Brahmaputra and develop the waterways to develop an alternative, economical, environmentally sound and effective mode of transportation. These 10 new projects, which will be developed under the prestigious Sagarmala programme of the Govt of India, are designed to boost connectivity, smoothen & upgrade public transportation and nourish economic growth. These Sagarmala projects will be developed building on ferry infrastructure, fleet modernisation, and as well boosting last-mile connectivity.

With the development of North-Eastern states in focus, including Assam, projects exceeding ₹1,000 crore have been initiated under the Sagarmala program. In Assam alone, projects exceeding ₹760 crore are currently underway, signifying the government’s dedication to the region’s progress. The MoPSW is also developing River tourism and water sports along the Brahmaputra under which seven tourist jetties will be constructed at Oriumghat, Bhupen Hazarika Setu, Koliabhom ora Bridge at Tezpur, Bogibeel Bridge, Dikhow Mukh, Kalongmukh and Uzanbazar in Guwahati.

Adding further, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Our rich waterways system remained deprived of any attention under the Congress governments. Despite the lack of focus on the development of the river ways before 2014, we have made substantial progress under Narendra Modiji’s 10 years of welfare government. Continuing on this path, these new projects are designed to further bolster maritime infrastructure, and add more muscle to the maritime infrastructure resulting in the promotion of trade & commerce via the river Brahmaputra. Under the inspiring leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, with a sustained effort to enable and empower waterways, the river Brahmaputra is on its way to reclaim its old glory as a thriving trade and commerce route, unfolding enormous economic opportunities for people of the region.”

With the prioritisation of port infrastructure expansion and the development of mega ports with capacities exceeding 300 and 500 million tonnes per annum (MTPA), coupled with efforts to boost the share of Inland Water Transport (IWT) to 5% by 2030 under the Maritime India Vision (MIV), the government is charting a comprehensive course towards a brighter maritime future for India.

Development of an Eastern Grid – at the Brahmaputra and Barak rivers along with the Ganga and Sundarbans – will boost regional integration and trade with South Asia and Eastern South Asia. Eastern Grid can unlock a multi-lateral trade potential of 49 billion dollars. 

The government has spent ₹1,040 crores on the development of waterways which has resulted in the operation of 20 Waterways in NER which was only ‘ONE’ till 2014. With the initiatives taken in the last 9 years, the cargo handled via the Indo Bangladesh Protocol route (IBPR) has increased to 170%. It is also noteworthy that the first Ship Repair facility, with an investment worth ₹208 crores, in NER is being developed through Hooghly-Cochin Shipyard Limited (HCSL) at Pandu along River Brahmaputra.

Sonowal recently inaugurated Passenger-cum-Cargo terminal at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh built with an investment of nearly ₹50 crore; the Inland waterways terminal at Sonamura is developed with an investment of ₹6.91 crore; The upgraded terminals at Karimganj and Badarpur are completed with an investment of ₹6.40 crore. 

Several transformative projects are set to revolutionize waterway transportation and tourism infrastructure in the North-East Region (NER). This includes the construction of six tourist jetties in Jogighopa, Tejpur, Bishwanathghat, Neamati, Sadiya, and Bindakota, with a total investment of ₹8.45 Cr. Adding to this enhancement, two Electric Catamarans, developed by Cochin Shipyard Limited at a cost of ₹36 crore, will be deployed in Guwahati by August 2024, greatly improving communication facilities. Moreover, the provision of 19 passenger vessels for NW-2 & NW-16 and the construction of two Pontoon Terminals on NW-2, with an investment of ₹25 crore, further solidify the region’s connectivity. Dredging operations by the Dredging Corporation of India in NER, spanning several critical stretches, will be carried out at a cost of ₹124 crore, ensuring navigational safety and efficiency. Additionally, the construction of an integrated office for Immigration, Customs & IWAI at Bogibeel, alongside bank protection and extension of the jetty at Bogibeel Terminal, signify a comprehensive approach to infrastructure development. 

The Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route developed jointly by India and Bangladesh at an estimated cost of ₹305.84 crores provides alternate connectivity for all North-eastern states from Guwahati and Jogighopa to Kolkata and Haldia ports.  The Sirajganj-Diakhowa (175 km) on River Jamuna and Ashuganj-Zakiganj (295km) of River Kushiyara on the IBP routes are being developed to connect with River Brahmaputra and River Barak (NW-16) in Assam. 

With ongoing projects like the Comprehensive development of NW-2, Ship repair facility at Pandu (₹208 Cr.), Jogighopa Inland Waterways terminal (₹64 Cr.), and last mile connectivity to Pandu port through an alternative road from Pandu Port to NH-27 (₹180 Cr.), the region is poised for remarkable growth and prosperity in its maritime sector.

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