Port Wings News Network:
In a first ever movement of its kind, Shri Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemical & Fertilizers, on 12 July 2019 digitally flagged-off a ship of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, carrying stone from Bhutan to be delivered in Bangladesh.
The ship – MV AAI – has set sail from Dhubri in Assam and will travel to Narayanganj in Bangladesh, over river Brahmaputra and the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route. This is the first time an Indian waterway is being used as a channel for transport of cargo between two countries, using India for transit.
The stone aggregates were transported by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 KMs from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Assam. Till now, Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh through the land route. The ship is carrying 1000 MT of stones – 70 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road.
Speaking on this occasion Shri Mandaviya said that the development is a historic one, taking ahead the vision of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi to promote cargo transportation through inland waterways.
He said the move will be beneficial to India as well as Bhutan and Bangladesh, and strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries.
He said transport of cargo through this route will cut short travel time by 8 to 10 days, and reduce transportation cost by 30%, bringing down logistics costs. It will also be a more environment friendly mode of transport. Shri Mandaviya further said that this new development will not only strengthen our ties with our neighbouring countries, but will also open up an alternate route to our North Eastern states, making it easier and cheaper to reach goods to these places from other parts of the country.
Shri Pravir Pandey, Chairman IWAI informed that capital dredging has been carried out to maintain an assured draft in the navigation channel. 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 also taking various initiatives to increase the use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment. These include providing assured depth of water in the channels, navigation aids like GPS and River Information System, terminals at regular intervals, facilities for mechanized handling of cargo handling etc.A minimum 40 % discount and priority in berthing is being given to coastal vessels at major ports. Licensing relaxations have been made under section 406 and 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 for fertilizers, agricultural products, fisheries, horticultural, and animal husbandry products, empty containers and containers being transhipped from another Indian port, special vessels such as Ro-Ro, Ro-Pax, Project cargo/ODC.