In a first, the Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya, on Friday digitally flagged-off a vessel from Assam's Dhubri to Bangladesh's Narayanganj, carrying 1000 MT of Bhutanese stone.
This marks the first time that an Indian waterway is being used as a channel for transport of cargo between the two countries. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) ship -- MV AAI -- will travel over the Brahmaputra River, using the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route.
The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan, which is 160 kilometres from IWAI's Dhubri jetty in Assam. Until now, Bhutan was exporting a significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through the land. Using waterways will decrease the cost of transportation by at least 30 per cent, along with cutting short travel time by eight to 10 days, according to an official press release.
The ship is carrying 1000 MT of stones -- 70 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road.
Speaking on this occasion, Mandaviya said that the development is a historic one, and takes forward the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to promote cargo transportation through inland waterways. He added that the move will be beneficial to India as well as Bhutan and Bangladesh, and will also strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries.
Pravir Pandey, Chairman of IWAI, informed that capital dredging has been carried out to maintain an assured draft in the navigation channel, while the maintenance dredging will be carried out as required. He further informed that at least 10 other National Waterways are under development currently.
The government is taking various initiatives to increase the use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment, the statement added.
These include providing an assured depth of water in the channels, navigation aids like GPS and River Information System, terminals at regular intervals, and facilities for mechanised cargo handling. (ANI)