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Integrated transport plans will open up new vistas in NE devp, feel experts

By Staff Reporter
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GUWAHATI, Dec 10 - The river network of the NE region offers natural and centuries-old navigation channels connecting the region with the rest of the country as well as the neighbouring countries. In Assam, where the Brahmaputra traverses the State across its length with multiple channels, inland water transport is a major means of conveyance for the people.

Such conveyance, other than serving a large rural population in the State, is also the sole mode for those living on the small alluvial formations in the mid channels, called chars, to connect to the mainland.

Hence, it obligatory for the planners to link the development of inland waterways in the country with the larger connectivity development plans happening in the Bay of Bengal region. A comprehensive approach wherein regional waterways development is aligned with other major developments like the East West corridor, Trans Asian Highway and the Trilateral Highway is the need of the hour.

Developing an integrated transport plan with special emphasis on multimodal connectivity would open up this isolated region to its neighbours and rest of the world, with the prospect for substantial gains in terms of economic growth, new livelihood generation and prosperity, leading to political and social stability.

These were the observations made by Veena Vidyadharan, Fellow and Prithviraj Nath, Associate Director, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International in a paper titled �Connectivity Gains for North East India via Waterways.�

Of late, the Government of India has given a renewed focus on reviving inland navigation, as it is cost effective and environment friendly. The National Waterways Act 2016 declared 106 new waterways as national waterways (NWs) in addition to the existing five NWs.

Among these, prime attention is being given to NW-1, which is1620-km-long on the Ganga from Haldia to Allahabad, followed by NW-2 , which is 891-km-long on the Brahmaputra from Dhubri to Sadiya in the State of Assam. Feasibility studies are also being undertaken in NW-16, the Barak river (121 km from Lakhipur in Cachar district to Bhanga, Karimganj district of Assam). Both these rivers are also part of the India- Bangladesh Protocol Routes for Trade and Transit (PIWTT) namely, Kolkata-Silghat and Kolkata-Karimganj respectively.

A joint study by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and RITES has estimated that there will be significant movement of cargo by 2031-32 at Jogighopa {10.03 million tonnes (MT), comprising mostly of coal} and Pandu (14.63 MT consisting of food items, cement, coal, fertilisers and building materials).

While looking at the transit cargo movement through PIWTT, it is evident that significant quantities of fly ash and food grains are transported through Kolkata�Karimganj route, whereas it is mostly over dimensional cargo that is transported via Dhubri, in addition to foodgrains. Given the recent thrust on infrastructure development in terms of roads, railway, waterways and power generation in the North East, easing of navigation through NW-2 promises substantial gains in terms of commercial and environmental costs, said the authors.

In lower Assam, which is marked by a number of small islands, goods of day-to-day necessities are being transported by the unorganised sector for the stretches between Dhubri to Hatsingimari and Phulbari near Meghalaya. As per estimates by the Central Government, unorganised sector contributes to 23.21 percent of the total passenger and goods transport in Assam. This indicates that promoting the use of waterways can lead to greater economic activities along the river banks by communities, which in turn will have positive impact on local economy and livelihood.

River-based tourism is yet another prospect that the region has and there has been some movement on this in the recent times, particularly with India and Bangladesh signing an MoU on operating cross-border river cruises along protocol routes, said the authors.

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Integrated transport plans will open up new vistas in NE devp, feel experts

GUWAHATI, Dec 10 - The river network of the NE region offers natural and centuries-old navigation channels connecting the region with the rest of the country as well as the neighbouring countries. In Assam, where the Brahmaputra traverses the State across its length with multiple channels, inland water transport is a major means of conveyance for the people.

Such conveyance, other than serving a large rural population in the State, is also the sole mode for those living on the small alluvial formations in the mid channels, called chars, to connect to the mainland.

Hence, it obligatory for the planners to link the development of inland waterways in the country with the larger connectivity development plans happening in the Bay of Bengal region. A comprehensive approach wherein regional waterways development is aligned with other major developments like the East West corridor, Trans Asian Highway and the Trilateral Highway is the need of the hour.

Developing an integrated transport plan with special emphasis on multimodal connectivity would open up this isolated region to its neighbours and rest of the world, with the prospect for substantial gains in terms of economic growth, new livelihood generation and prosperity, leading to political and social stability.

These were the observations made by Veena Vidyadharan, Fellow and Prithviraj Nath, Associate Director, Consumer Unity and Trust Society (CUTS) International in a paper titled �Connectivity Gains for North East India via Waterways.�

Of late, the Government of India has given a renewed focus on reviving inland navigation, as it is cost effective and environment friendly. The National Waterways Act 2016 declared 106 new waterways as national waterways (NWs) in addition to the existing five NWs.

Among these, prime attention is being given to NW-1, which is1620-km-long on the Ganga from Haldia to Allahabad, followed by NW-2 , which is 891-km-long on the Brahmaputra from Dhubri to Sadiya in the State of Assam. Feasibility studies are also being undertaken in NW-16, the Barak river (121 km from Lakhipur in Cachar district to Bhanga, Karimganj district of Assam). Both these rivers are also part of the India- Bangladesh Protocol Routes for Trade and Transit (PIWTT) namely, Kolkata-Silghat and Kolkata-Karimganj respectively.

A joint study by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and RITES has estimated that there will be significant movement of cargo by 2031-32 at Jogighopa {10.03 million tonnes (MT), comprising mostly of coal} and Pandu (14.63 MT consisting of food items, cement, coal, fertilisers and building materials).

While looking at the transit cargo movement through PIWTT, it is evident that significant quantities of fly ash and food grains are transported through Kolkata�Karimganj route, whereas it is mostly over dimensional cargo that is transported via Dhubri, in addition to foodgrains. Given the recent thrust on infrastructure development in terms of roads, railway, waterways and power generation in the North East, easing of navigation through NW-2 promises substantial gains in terms of commercial and environmental costs, said the authors.

In lower Assam, which is marked by a number of small islands, goods of day-to-day necessities are being transported by the unorganised sector for the stretches between Dhubri to Hatsingimari and Phulbari near Meghalaya. As per estimates by the Central Government, unorganised sector contributes to 23.21 percent of the total passenger and goods transport in Assam. This indicates that promoting the use of waterways can lead to greater economic activities along the river banks by communities, which in turn will have positive impact on local economy and livelihood.

River-based tourism is yet another prospect that the region has and there has been some movement on this in the recent times, particularly with India and Bangladesh signing an MoU on operating cross-border river cruises along protocol routes, said the authors.