Pandu(Assam): The use of the waterways by
private sector for transportation of bulk cargo would open new
avenues for business and employment in the North East region,
said Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) chairperson
Bhupinder Prasad on Thursday.
"The private sector in the N-E region should come forward
to take advantage of the naturally endowed network of rivers
here as they are environment friendly, fuel efficient and cost
effective. Most benign from the carbon point of view", Prasad
said flagging off two IWAI jute loaded cargo vessels from
Pandu port near Guwahati for trial run to Kolkata.
Wanting the private sector to be involved as stakeholders,
the IWAI chairman officer said, the waterways were best suited
for safe transportation of bulk cargo such as coal, cement,
steel, foodgrains, edible oil, fertilisers, bitumen, petroleum
products, containers, over weight and over dimensional cargo.
The capacity expansion of traditional transport modes such
as rail and road being capital intensive and time consuming,
she said, inland water transport provided a viable alternative
transport route where the private sector could invest
Today`s trial-run of the cargo vessels was to show the
public and investors about the great potential and viability
of the mighty Brahmaputra (Waterway No. 2) to be another line
of connectivity to the mainland, she said.
For encouraging the private sector, the IWAI chief
also called for vessel building subsidy to the investors.
The mandate of the IWAI under the ministry of Shipping was
to develop the national water highways and provide
infrastructure facilities such as navigable routes, terminals,
handle cargo, Prasad added.
The IWAI chairperson said the waterways could be an
alternative mode of transport for people and food during the
time of flood in remote areas.
The historic Pandu port would be a very important hub for
the region for inter-modal transportation along with the
railways and national highways, she said.
The versatile port had two jetties with one at a high
level to be used during the floods when the Brahmaputra is in
spate and the other at a low level for use when the river is
in ebbed state.
Floating terminals had also been set up along the 891-km
Brahmaputra in Assam at Jogighopa and Dhubri down stream and
at Silghat, Tezpur, Neamatighat, Dibrugarh and Sadiya
upstream, Prasad said.
Pandu was a port since the British times till 1965 but
the route had closed down between 1965-72 during the Indo-Pak
wars as the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) route was
closed down, she said.
"But Bangladesh is now giving us the facility to use
their waterways and for them to use ours through the
Indo-Bangladesh Waterways Protocol signed between the two
countries", Prasad added.
Compared to other modes of transport, Prasad said IWAI
had spent only Rs 800 crore for waterways development
countrywide since its inception in 1986.
Referring to the multi-modal transit transport facility
-- Kaladan project-- linking Mizoram and other N-E states with
Kolkata through Myanmarese Sittwe port was being implemented
to be completed on schedule by 2013, she added.