• Mon. Jul 15th, 2024

Sarbananda Sonowal launches major projects for development of waterways, unveils projects worth 308 crore for North East India

The Union Minister of Ports,  Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal launched a major push for the development of waterways by unveiling projects worth ₹308 crores for North East region here today. The event was simultaneously held at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh, Badarpur in Karimganj, IWAI port in Dhubri as well as Sonamura in Tripura.

The Union Minister was joined by the Minister of Transport, Fisheries & Excise, Assam, Parimal Suklabaidya; the Minister of Health & Family Welfare, Information Technology, Assam, Keshab Mahanta; the MP (Lok Sabha) for Guwahati, Queen Oja while the Union Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas and Labour Employment, Govt of India, Rameshwar Teli joined in the programme from Dibrugarh. In Sonamura, the event was attended by the Minister of Transport, Tourism, & Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, Tripura, Sushanta Chowdhury among other dignitaries. At Pandu, the event was also graced by the MLA of Guwahati East, Siddhartha Bhattacharyya, the Mayor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), Mrigen Sarania; the Deputy Mayor of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC), Smita Roy, the Chairman, IWAI, Vijay Kumar; the Vice Chairman of IWAI, Sunil Kumar Singh, along with prominent social worker Tapan Das among other dignitaries. In Dibrugarh, the event was also graced by the Chairman, All Assam Industrial Corporation (AIDC) and MLA, Dibrugarh, Prasanta Phukan; the MLA of Moran, Chakradhar Gogoi as well as the MLA of Chabua, Ponakan Baruah. At Dhubri, Jiron Basumotary, MLA, Gossaigaon was present on the occasion.

Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurated Passenger-cum-Cargo terminal at Bogibeel near Dibrugarh, the Inland Water Transport Terminal at Sonamura in Tripura and upgraded terminals at Karimganj & Badarpur in Assam here today. This terminal will play a pivotal role in rejuvenating IWT in the region for cargo and passenger movement, paving the way for the growth of trade & commerce.

The Ports, Shipping & Waterways Minister also laid foundation stones for the construction of the Custom Immigration Office in Dhubri as well as the construction of the compound wall for the IWAI Jogighopa terminal. The newly inaugurated Bogibeel terminal is being built with an investment of nearly ₹50 crores. This project includes cargo & passenger berths, approach & other internal roads, a transit shed, an open storage area, a truck parking area, and a passenger waiting area. It will also lead to an increase in eco-tourism as well as improve the economies of scale for existing major trade like tea, polymer, coal, and fertiliser among others. The length of this terminal will be extended to 100 metres and the construction will start immediately. An integrated officer for Immigration, Customs & IWAI at Bogibeel is also being constructed at a cost of ₹18 Crores. A project for bank protection and Extension of the jetty at Bogibeel Terminal at a cost of ₹12 Cr would also be initiated immediately.

The IWT terminal at Sonamura is developed with an investment of ₹6.91 crores. The upgraded terminals at Karimganj and Badarpur were completed with an investment of ₹6.40 crores. The IWT Terminal at Sonamura has the potential to attract transboundary trade including commodities like bagged cement, horticulture, consumer products and other local goods transported via road between India and Bangladesh. The Chief Minister of Tripura, Prof (Dr) Manik Saha shared a video message highlighting the importance of this project on the occasion. This jetty is also being developed as a multi-purpose jetty to support the movement of passengers on ferries between the two countries. The renovated and upgraded terminals at Karimganj and Badarpur will further ease and increase the export activities & commodities. The projects have major influence in districts of Cachar, Karimganj & Hailakandi in Assam and adjoining states of Mizoram, Tripura, Manipur and Meghalaya due to the presence of cement industry, stone crushers, coal deposits, food processing units, tea estates.

Speaking on the occasion,the Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Under the dynamic leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, our rich and complex web of waterways are being developed with major projects launched here today. Modi Ki Guarantee is powering the waterways of the North East towards Viksit Bharat. The terminals at Bogibeel will act as a catalyst of economic development for the region, further amplifying trade opportunities for upper Assam as well as Arunachal Pradesh. The Sonamura terminal in Tripura will further transboundary trade between India and Bangladesh. The Karimganj and Badarpur terminals will also power trade opportunities. All these projects will go a long way towards realising the vision of Narendra Modi ji towards the Northeast acting as the powerhouse of India’s growth towards becoming Viksit Bharat.”

The Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal also laid the foundation stones for the construction of the Customs Immigration Office in Dhubri with an investment of ₹7.5 crores. The construction of the boundary wall will also start at the Jogighopa terminal in Goalpara, Assam. The wall for the IWAI Jogighopa terminal, which is being built at a cost of ₹18 Crore, will secure the terminal. 6 Tourist jetties in NER at a cost of ₹8.45 Cr. at Jogighopa, Tejpur, Bishwanathghat, Neamati, Sadiya, and Bindakota would also be constructed. Three of these have already been provided, and the rest will be provided soon. This project is introduced to upgrade the existing infrastructure along NW-2 and recognise the huge potential for cargo, passenger transportation, and riverine tourism.

Two Electric Catamarans at Guwahati will be deployed in Guwahati by August 2024. The Electric Catamarans, developed by Cochin Shipyard Limited at a cost of ₹36 Crores, will enhance communication facilities for the people of Guwahati. The 50 pax Electric Hybrid Catamaran will be used for cross-river ferry and pilgrim tourism at Guwahati. It will improve the economies of scale for existing major trade like coal, stone chips, polymer, fertiliser etc through the IBP route and from Bhutan through waterways and also encourage employment & economic growth. 19 passenger vessels for NW-2 & NW-16 would be provided and two Pontoon Terminals on NW-2 would be constructed at a cost of ₹25 crores.

Announcing new major initiatives for the development of waterways in the region, the Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal, said, “It gives me immense pleasure to share with all of you that we have decided to deploy 6 tourist jetties on the National Waterways 2; i.e. River Brahmaputra. We have also decided to deploy 2 Electric Hybrid Catamaran at Guwahati which will ease passengers to commute between the two banks along Brahmaputra. Towards achieving Modiji’s vision of a powerful North East region, I am happy to share that Dredging Corporation of India will commence dredging operations in the North East region. These initiatives will power our waterways towards transforming the North East to become the powerhouse of India’s growth story towards becoming a Viksit Bharat, a vision of Narendra Modiji. These transformative projects, under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, will mark a new era of connectivity and prosperity for the Northeast region, furthering the ‘Act East’ policy of the Modi government. These initiatives reflect Modiji’s unwavering commitment to drive inclusive growth and development in the region, delivering on the vision of Modi ji ‘Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas’.”

The tourist jetties will enhance the existing infrastructure along Brahmaputra (NW2) further bolstering the promising tourism industry of the state. These jetties are being built with an investment of ₹8.45 crores. The Electric Hybrid Catamarans, which are being deployed in Guwahati with an investment of ₹36 crores, will introduce Green energy in inland waterways. The Dredging Corporation of India (DCI), India’s premier institution dedicated towards dredging operations, will commence operations on rivers Brahmaputra (NW 2) and Barak (NW 16). The dredging operations in NER in the Dhubri-Jogighopa stretch of NW-2, Dhubri-Hatsingimari, North Guwahati-South Guwahati, Neamati- Kamlabari and Lakhipur-Bhanga on NW-16 will be done at a cost of ₹124 crores. This project will help maintain constant and adequate draft and help seamless movement of cargo and passengers in the National Waterways of Northeast.

Elaborating on the scope of work proposed to be done for furthering the strength of waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Our Cabinet under the visionary leadership of the Hon’ble Prime Minister recently approved the signing of the BIMSTEC Agreement on Maritime Transport Cooperation. This Agreement in the spirit of our Neighborhood First Policy will herald seamless movement of water-borne cargo amongst the seven BIMSTEC countries. This Agreement will result in enhanced trade and commerce, reduced logistic costs as a result of removal of administrative and procedural delays, increase in manufacturing and enhanced employment opportunities. We have also adopted a Roadmap for River Cruise Tourism for developing multiple other routes for cruise tourism on other National Waterways. 45,000 Crores would be spent on the development of River Cruise Tourism in the coming years. This shows the immense potential that rests in the 20,000 kilometres long and vibrant inland waterways of our country. IWT sector is also witnessing environment-friendly green initiatives viz. development of electric catamarans, Hydrogen Powered Catamaran Pax Vessels etc. The initial target is to support the transition of 1,000 Vessels, ferries and boats over the next 10 years and eventually achieve the target of all Green Vessels by 2047. This stands as a resounding testament to the critical role of these waterways in propelling economic growth and prosperity. There has been a 700% increase in operational national waterways, from only 3 in 2014 to 24 Operational National Waterways today, a phenomenal rise of 56% in multimodal terminals and a 200% increase in investments in National Waterways. The IWT sector has been experiencing an unprecedented surge in terms of trade and transport since 2014. During the last 10 years under the visionary leadership of Ho Prime Minister  Narendra Modi , we have made remarkable efforts to develop and explore the full potential of our 20,000 kilometres long Inland Waterways sector.” 

The strategic significance is underscored by a substantial investment of over ₹1,000 crore in the past couple of years dedicated to the advancement of these waterways in the North-East. Projects such as Comprehensive development of NW-2, Ship repair facility at Pandu (₹208 Cr.), Jogighopa IWT terminal (₹64 Cr.), last mile connectivity to Pandu port through alternative road from Pandu Port to NH-27 (₹180 Cr.) are some of the projects that are already underway. IWAI has endeavoured to develop NW-1, passing through the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, as a reliable cargo logistics route under ₹5,000 crores under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). From 2013-14 onwards, the cargo movement has increased in the last decade from a mere 6.89 million Ton in 2014 to 126.15 Million tonnes in 2022-23, showing a mammoth growth of 1,700%.

Under the Sagarmala program, aimed at the development of the North-Eastern states, projects exceeding ₹1,000 crores have been initiated, with a particular focus on enhancing inland waterways in Assam, where projects exceeding ₹760 crores are underway.

The Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW) prioritizes the expansion of port infrastructure, including the development of six mega ports with capacities exceeding 300 and 500 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). Additionally, MoPSW aims to boost the share of Inland Water Transport (IWT) to 5% by 2030 as part of the Maritime India Vision (MIV), signalling a comprehensive effort towards fostering maritime sector growth and connectivity enhancement.

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