Smoother, better waterways transportation coming up as IWAI and DCI shake hands

In what is being called as a ‘historic’ agreement, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the Dredging Corporation of India (DCI) have shook hands to dredge more than 120km of inland waterways in Assam. The project has been allotted a fund of INR 204.47 crore by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, and this 120km stretch will give an all-weather unobstructed passage to ships and ferries. The agreement will be in force till 2026, with a provision to increase it further.

“Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the government is taking necessary measures to ensure minimum LAD for smooth and safe passage of vessels and ferries around the year. This agreement will ensure that one of the most affordable, efficient and green modes of transportation gets a boost in the region which will tremendously help unlock the economic potential in the region.”

Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways

The agreement will affect dredging, banding, channel markings, and river training works in order to ensure the safe navigation of vessels. Among the major waterways, multiple stretches over River Brahmaputra, Dhansiri, Kopili, and Barak will be developed and maintained fairways to unlock the value of inland waterways transportation in the region.

Under the agreement, 3 RoPax routes on the Brahmaputra River (NW-2), Kopili River (NW-57), and Barak River (NW-16) River shall be developed and maintained over time. RoPax ferries are designed to provide maximum efficiency and the seamless transfer of vehicles, cargo and passengers. To maximise in-service economy, these ferries are equipped to handle all shapes and sizes of freight and designed to use cargo space as efficiently as possible. The routes will be used to transport over dimensional cargo to and from Numaligarh Refinery.

The inland waterway have been increasingly used, in recent times, for the movement of huge cargo; plus the Ganga river is also hosting the world’s longest river cruise. Sonowal said that the sustained least available depth (LAD) of the waterways in the region will bolster business viability, and trade and unlock opportunities for the people of the region.

The process for 1st phase, covering Dhansiri and Bramhaputra, has already started and the 2nd phase over Kopili and Barak, will also be initiated soon. The required fairway will be maintained for a period of 6 months during the lean period months every year for 3 years and Dhansiri River (NW-31) navigational routes with the required fairway for a period of 6 months during the flood period months every year for 3 years.

The DCI, India’s pioneering organisation in dredging and maritime development, enters the inland waterways sector of the country for the first time. It will examine the dredger leasing model to execute these works.

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