The Ministry of Shipping, after the other National Waterway Projects, is now keen to start the inland waterways navigation and passenger transportation in the rivers of the North-Eastern states of the country. The project is said to bring easy movement in the region.
According to Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping, the inland waterways transport will be a game-changer for the North-Eastern states of the country. The long and time-consuming land routes are often a hazard in transportation in the North-Eastern states. However, inland waterways transportation will bring easy movement and also generate employment for the locals.
Despite the cost efficiency and other benefits, the use of Indian inland waterways is only 0.1% while in the United States it is 21%.
Mansukh Mandaviya announced that WAPCOS (a public sector company) is preparing a DPR model for the implementation of the project. The model will help the services to run at a low cost in the state. Also, the Inland Waterways Authority of India, in consultation with different state governments in the region, could adopt it for quick implementation.
The river, canals, backwaters and creeks together form the 14,500km long inland waterways in India. The Modi Government 2.0 is putting great emphasis on the development of inland waterways with the help of projects like Jal Marg Vikas Project in order to have maximum utilization of the Indian inland waterways.
Recently, the redeveloped Dhubri port in Assam, with customs facility, jetty and two warehouses that can handle bigger vessels has also been inaugurated.
Boon for Agri Sector
As per the government’s North East Council Regional Plan 2019-20, increasing the ferry and cargo services from the areas where sufficient quantity of paddy, fruit, vegetable, jute, mustard etc. are grown on one side of the river to the main markets, which are on the other bank, may be very beneficial to the farmers.
This is possible if ferry services between North and South bank of the river Brahmaputra are increased.
This will allow easier and cheaper transport of agricultural produce to big marketing centres like Goalpara, Palasbari, Guwahati, Nagaon, Jorhat and Dibrugarh etc.
The plan also suggests the restoration of Gumti and Hoara Waterways in Tripura to facilitate seamless waterways connection through Bangladesh.