A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed in Guwahati, Assam for the development of ‘Riverine Based Religious Tourism Circuit’ among Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Sagarmala Development Corporation Limited (SDCL), Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC) and Department of Inland Waterways Transport (DIWT), Government of Assam.
Chief Minister of Assam, Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma and Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal witnessed this historic signing ceremony which is poised to unlock a new chapter in the riverine tourism sector in Assam.
The MoU will facilitate modern ferry service on a ‘Hop On Hop Off’ among seven (07) historic religious sites around Guwahati. The seven religious sites are Kamakhya, Pandunath, Ashwalknata, Doul Govinda, Umananda, Chakreshwar and Auniati Satra to be covered with the help of this agreement. The waiting lounge at the ferry terminal will be a modern facility providing a comfortable ambiance for the passengers.
The project, executed via a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), is likely to be completed with an investment of ₹45 crores and will be completed within 12 months.
The circuit will sail from Hanuman Ghat, Uzan Bazar, and the ferry service is expected to reduce the overall travel time to less than 2 hours for completing one complete circuit. SDCL and IWAI will jointly contribute 55% of the project cost while the remaining will be provided by ATDC. DIWT has consented to provide the usage of Ghats near the temples free of cost for the project.
Speaking on the occasion Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “The development of the Riverine Based Tourism Circuit is a huge shot in the arm for the tourism sector in Assam. I am happy with the support of the Government of Assam, the IWAI and SDCL will work in tandem with ATDC and IWT to execute this project swiftly and unveil a new chapter of the riverine tourism sector in Assam. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the Act East policy of India is being reflected in major developmental projects across the region. Today, the inland waterways have exemplified how transformation can be achieved via transportation.
From ODC and OWC cargo movement via Brahmaputra to the world’s longest river cruise Ganga Vilas, the huge potential of inland waterways is being unlocked. Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, we remain steadfast in our journey to develop the rich potential of inland waterways in Assam and the whole of the Northeast so that it powers the engine of growth of New India.”
Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister of Assam Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “Today’s signing ceremony is going to usher in a new chapter of tourism in the state. I am happy to be present at this historic event. I convey my deep gratitude to the departments for this initiative. Religious tourism will get a boost as the tourists will enjoy the rich spiritual heritage of Guwahati via this wonderful riverine circuit.”
Jayanta Malla Baruah, Tourism Minister, Government of Assam in his welcome address said that this initiative can be called the beginning of a golden era for the tourism industry in Assam. This MoU will play an important role in the river tourism in Assam which will give a boost to the tourism sector in the state, he added.
The event was also attended by Transport Minister, Government of Assam, Parimal Shuklabaidya; Chairman, IWAI, Sanjay Bandopadhyay; Chairman, ATDC, Rituparna Baruah; Vice Chairman, ATDC, Dilip Das; and Dilip Kumar Gupta, Managing Director, Sagarmala Development Corporation Limited (SDCL) among other officials of state and central government at Assam Administrative Staff College in Guwahati.