• Sat. Dec 2nd, 2023

Projects worth ₹1,700 crores invested for the development of Inland Waterways of Northeast India: Sarbananda Sonowal

The roadshow on Global Maritime India Summit, 2023 (GMIS) was ceremonially inaugurated by the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal here today.

Pitching the role of GMIS, 2023, the Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal highlighted how the role of inland waterways has evolved as an alternative mode of transportation, especially under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

On this occasion, the Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Inland waterways are powering the growth of the Indian economy. Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the inland waterways sector has received a tremendous boost as govt has invested ₹5200 crores since 2014. This is a significant jump of more than 200% in the amount of investment made by the government in a span of 9 years over investments made in the previous 28 years. This drives home the utmost urgency with which the inland waterways is being developed under the Modi government. This clean, efficient & economical mode of transportation will be pivotal in unlocking the economic potential of the hinterland of India. By investing in the inland waterways and empowering our rich and complex waterways system, we are in the process of creating a collaborative ecosystem for the industry that will foster greater cooperation among our neighbouring countries. This is going to unlock huge trade and commerce potential for all the countries as well as states of India in the south Asia region.”

Highlighting the role of port led development, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Under the leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji, the government aims to bring Indian ports to global standard, facilitating greater industrialisation, manufacturing and ease of doing business. India stands as one of the swiftest expanding maritime nations, and as Indians, we take immense pride in being a part of this era marked by evolution and transformation. Guided by the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, we have not only acquired the necessary skills but also the strength to excel on the global stage. By modernising the ports of India, India will ensure advancement of coastal communities, coastal districts, and the entire nation. By elevating Indian ports to global standards, fostering a port-driven economy that promotes increased industrialisation, manufacturing, and improved ease of doing business.”

The roadshow on Global Maritime India Summit, 2023 was also addressed by Minister of Transport, Fisheries & Excise Department, Govt. of Assam, Parimal Suklabaidya, Minister of Industries & Commerce and Public Enterprises, Cultural Affairs, Govt of Assam, Bimal Borah; Minister for Water Resources, Govt. of Arunachal Pradesh, Mama Natung; MLA & Advisor (Transport and Technical education), Govt. of Nagaland, Temjenmenba; Secretary, MoPSW, T.K. Ramachandran; Chairman, National Shipping Board (NSB), Sanjeev Ranjan, IAS; Chairman, IWAI, Sanjay Bandopadhyay; among other dignitaries from trade and commerce as well as maritime sector of the region and officials.

GMIS also witnessed participation from the neighbouring countries Bhutan and Bangladesh. The countries were represented by Assistant High Commissioner, Bangladesh in Guwahati, Ruhul Amin; Joint Secretary, Member (Planning & Operation), Bangladesh Inland Waterways Transport Authority (BIWTA), Mohammad Monowar Uz Zaman as well as Vice Consul, Royal Bhutanese Consulate General, Guwahati, Phurpa Tshering.

Delivering a speech during his session, TK Ramachandra, Secretary, MoPSW said, “The North-east is often referred as the unexplored paradise of our nation. This region is blessed with lush landscapes, vibrant cultures, rich biodiversity, and abundant rivers, which grants it the geographical advantage to leverage transformative solutions and foster increased collaboration with Asia Pacific nations.”

He also underscored the government’s efforts to transform the region into an epitome of growth and connectivity. Speaking about the ongoing projects in the region, Ramachandra said, “We have already identified 20 projects aimed at enhancing connectivity within the north-east region. These projects encompass the modernization of existing terminals, establishment of new terminals, improvement of first and last-mile connectivity, industrialisation, river ports, and skill development, among other initiatives. The work on the eastern waterways grid will revitalise economic position of the entire South Asian region including Myanmar, Malaysia and Thailand.”

Adding to the discourse, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Chairman, Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI), also underlined the all-time high cargo movement on National Waterways in FY23, noting that this year’s achievement builds on the remarkable progress the IWAI has made since 2014-15. He said, “The Authority reported that the cargo transported through waterways was 30.40 million tonnes in 2014-15. The growth rate since then has been an extraordinary 315%. In a year that tested the resilience of global trade, the robust growth in cargo movement through our National Waterways is a testament to the effectiveness of our initiatives and the robustness of India’s inland waterways system.”

The roadshow also featured addresses by international representatives, including Phurpa Tshering, Vice Consul, Royal Bhutanese Consulate General, Guwahati, who stressed the significance of a collective maritime vision, along with Ruhul Amin, Assistant High Commissioner of Bangladesh in Guwahati highlighted the pivotal role of regional cooperation in enhancing connectivity within the maritime domain. He also underscored some of the key port projects that will facilitate increased collaboration between India and Bangladesh. Mohammad Monowar Uz Zaman, Joint Secretary, Member (Planning & Operation), BIWTA also delivered remarks during the event.

Notable projects include the Jalmarg Vikas, and the Arth Ganga projects, backed by an impressive budget of ₹4,634 crores. Moreover, the River Brahmaputra (NW-2) has received ₹474 crores for its development in 2020-21. Significant allocations also extend to ₹208 crores for a Ship Repair facility at Pandu. This funding further stretches to the development of new National Waterways like River Barak (NW-16) and the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route at ₹148 crores, and a collective ₹267 crores for NW-3, NW-4, NW-5, and 13 other New National Waterways. This increased funding has catalysed a suite of new initiatives for the comprehensive development of National Waterways.

The event witnessed three sessions including a technical session on infrastructure where technical experts from the Northeast states deliberated, Ministers Session as well as a dedicated session on trade where leaders and experts deliberated on opportunities as well as possibilities for economic growth and regional trade via rich system of inland waterways. Post inaugural session, the trade talks took place where trade, business bodies will engage to explore opportunities in the inland waterways in the region.

The roadshow at Guwahati is the fifth in a series of roadshows being organised by the Ministry as part of the run up to the main event of Global Maritime India Summit, 2023. The main event is going to be held between October 17-19, 2023 at Bharat Mandapam in Delhi. Earlier, similar roadshows were organised in Kolkata, Mangalore, Vishakhapatanam and Goa. Following Guwahati, road shows are being planned at Chennai, Bhubaneswar, Varanasi, Kochi, Ahmedabad and Bangalore.

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