Union minister Nitin Gadkari will flag off first movement of cement cargo through National Waterway (NW) 2 on the Brahmaputra in Assam tomorrow, in an effort to push transportation of goods through water. The idea is to develop Brahmaputra River (NW2) for commercial navigation and the efforts are part of renewed focus over the last three years to promote inland water transport in the North East Region (NER). “Marking a new milestone towards Government of India’s constant endeavours to promote economically more viable and environment friendly modes of transport in the country, two barges of 200-metric tonne capacity each will carry 400 tonnes of cement from the Inland Waterways Authority of India’s Pandu Port to Dhubri covering a distance of 255 kilometres. With this, the IWAI will be initiating regular cargo movement through inland waterways under the Sagarmala programme,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.
Gadkari, the minister for Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation, will flag off the first movement of cement cargo through NW 2 on river Brahmaputra in Assam tomorrow under the shipping ministry’s flagship programme Sagarmala. He will also lay the foundation stone for bank protection work of the Majuli island in presence of Assam Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. “Transportation of cargo through NW 2 from Pandu to Dhubri will help save 1,50,000 tonnes of road transportation per trip and 300 km of road travel while reducing the logistics costs. Notably, where one horse power can move 150 kg on road and 500 kg on rail, it can move 4,000 kg on waterways,” the statement said.
Further, while one litre of fuel can move 24 tonnes per km on road and 85 tonnes on rail, the same amount of fuel can move 105 tonnes per km on waterways, it said, adding that infrastructural development for Inland Water Transport (IWT) requires minimal land compared to road and rail. The IWAI (Indian Waterways Authority of India) will charge only Rs 318 per tonne as waterway transportation charges from Pandu to Dhubri/Hatsingimari to encourage entrepreneurs and logistic operators to shift to a cost effective and eco-friendly mode of transportation that also reduces road congestion. The IWAI, the statement said, has been working closely with major cement firms like Dalmia, Star and Amrit and appreciates interest shown by them in cargo movement through waterways.
Efforts are on to get other cargo owners to shift their transportation to waterways as this can be a key enabler for reduction of logistics cost and open up more business and employment opportunities, it stated. The Ministry of Shipping has been focussing on connecting the north east region to Kolkata, Haldia, Mongla and Chittagong ports, besides providing efficient logistics in the North East, setting up roll on-roll off services across River banks and facilitating movement for armed forces. Roll on-roll off ships are vessels that are used to carry wheeled cargo. On NW2, differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) stations have been provided at four locations such as Dhubri, Jogighopa, Biswanthghat and Dibrugarh for safe navigation of vessels with electronic charts.
Floating terminal facilities have been provided at 12 important identified locations, namely Hatsingimari, Dhubri, Jogighopa, Pandu, Tezpur, Silghat, Biswanathghat, Neamati, Sengajan, Bogibil, Dibrugarh/Oakland and Oriumghat, which will be increased as per location needs, it said. Of the 106 new National Waterways notified in April 2016 under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 19 are in the NER. Some of these are NW-16 (the Barak), NW-95 (the Subansiri), NW-39 (the Ganol) and NW-93 (the Simsang).