Private sector should come forward to use waterways: IWAI

Pandu(Assam), Jan 21 (PTI) The use of the waterways byprivate sector for transportation of bulk cargo would open newavenues for business and employment in the North East region,said Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) chairpersonBhupinder Prasad today.

"The private sector in the N-E region should come forwardto take advantage of the naturally endowed network of rivershere as they are environment friendly, fuel efficient and costeffective. Most benign from the carbon point of view", Prasadsaid flagging off two IWAI jute loaded cargo vessels fromPandu 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 suitedfor safe transportation of bulk cargo such as coal, cement,steel, foodgrains, edible oil, fertilisers, bitumen, petroleumproducts, containers, over weight and over dimensional cargo.

The capacity expansion of traditional transport modes suchas rail and road being capital intensive and time consuming,she said, inland water transport provided a viable alternativetransport route where the private sector could investprofitably.

Today''s trial-run of the cargo vessels was to show thepublic and investors about the great potential and viabilityof the mighty Brahmaputra (Waterway No. 2) to be another lineof connectivity to the mainland, she said.

For encouraging the private sector, the IWAI chiefalso called for vessel building subsidy to the investors.

The mandate of the IWAI under the ministry of Shipping wasto develop the national water highways and provideinfrastructure facilities such as navigable routes, terminals,handle cargo, Prasad added.

(REOPENS CES11) The IWAI chairperson said the waterways could be analternative mode of transport for people and food during thetime of flood in remote areas.

The historic Pandu port would be a very important hub forthe region for inter-modal transportation along with therailways and national highways, she said.

The versatile port had two jetties with one at a highlevel to be used during the floods when the Brahmaputra is inspate and the other at a low level for use when the river isin ebbed state.

Floating terminals had also been set up along the 891-kmBrahmaputra in Assam at Jogighopa and Dhubri down stream andat Silghat, Tezpur, Neamatighat, Dibrugarh and Sadiyaupstream, Prasad said.

Pandu was a port since the British times till 1965 butthe route had closed down between 1965-72 during the Indo-Pakwars as the then East Pakistan (now Bangladesh) route wasclosed down, she said.

"But Bangladesh is now giving us the facility to usetheir waterways and for them to use ours through theIndo-Bangladesh Waterways Protocol signed between the twocountries", Prasad added.

Compared to other modes of transport, Prasad said IWAIhad spent only Rs 800 crore for waterways developmentcountrywide since its inception in 1986.

Referring to the multi-modal transit transport facility-- Kaladan project-- linking Mizoram and other N-E states withKolkata through Myanmarese Sittwe port was being implementedto be completed on schedule by 2013, she added.

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