With the aim to effectively utilise inland waterways to improve cargo and passenger vessels movement at a cheaper cost, as many as 23 river systems will be developed for cargo and passenger vessel movement, said the Union minister Sarbananda Sonowal.
The government’s focus is on increasing the movement through river systems, the minister for ports, shipping and waterways told PTI in an interview.
“Till now, we have 111 national waterways and out of this, we have discovered there are 23 river systems which are feasible for navigation,” he said. These will be accordingly developed for cargo and passenger vessels movement, Sonowal said.
In Dibrugarh, he said construction of a multi-modal cargo terminal will begin by 2023-end with multi-crore investment. “A lot of development will happen along the river Brahmaputra, that will create jobs in large numbers for the people,” he said.
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Under the government’s Arth Ganga model, as many as 62 jetties will be developed along the river Ganga to facilitate passenger and cargo-vessel movement. The minister did not name all 23 river systems but said that the government’s focus is on increasing the movement through river systems, which is a greener mode of transport and cheap compared to trains and trucks.
He said that Brahmaputra Crackers Polymers Limited (BCPL) imports naptha from the Middle East. The state-owned company unloads it at Haldia port in West Bengal from where it transports it to Dibrugarh in Assam through trucks.
“The movement is through 500 trucks daily which creates pollution. When it is brought through the river system. It will be cheaper and greener,” Sonowal said.
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There are a lot of investment opportunities in the inland waterways sector of India, the minister said, citing the example of MV Ganga Vilas, the world’s longest river cruise, which concluded its 50-day journey on Tuesday (February 28) in Dibrugarh with German and Swiss tourists onboard.
“Our river systems have a lot of business potential. I urge investors to invest for good returns and explore the untapped potential of this segment,” he said.