AGARTALA, Oct 27 - After Myanmar, India has kicked off the process to open new waterways with Bangladesh, a move that would facilitate the movement of people, goods and machinery between them and hugely help land-locked northeastern India.
According to Union Minister for DoNER (Development of North Eastern Region) Jitendra Singh, India is prioritising multi-modal connectivity in the northeastern region, including water connectivity, and already 16 waterway projects, mostly involving Bangladesh, have been approved for this region.
�To expedite Prime Minister Narendra Modi�s Act East Policy, multi-modal connectivity in the northeastern region, mostly involving Bangladesh, has been undertaken on a priority basis to increase bilateral trade and to increase the movement of people,� Singh told IANS in an interview.
�The Shipping Ministry, in association with the Ministry of External Affairs, is looking into this. Assam, Tripura and other northeastern States would be benefited to a large extent under these ambitious projects.�
India is now implementing the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit-Transport Project through Sittwe Port in Myanmar to resolve the connectivity problem in the mountainous northeastern region.
The Union Cabinet recently revised the cost of the project from Rs 535 crore to Rs 2,904 crore. The funds will be given as grant to Myanmar. The much-expected project will provide an alternative access route to the Northeast and boost the region�s economy.
The idea is to have a 225-km waterway from Sittwe Port to Paletwa, both in Myanmar, along the Kaladan river, near Mizoram. A 62-km road will connect Paletwa to the Indian border village of Zochawchhuah in eastern Mizoram, one of eight northeastern States.
An official of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) said that of the 16 waterway projects, a significant portion of works of three projects in Assam, Mizoram and Manipur has already been completed at a cost of Rs 15 crore.
Construction of 17-metre-long floating terminals at 20 places on the Brahmaputra river has been completed, while the construction of 17-metre-long floating terminal pontoons at 15 places has been initiated by the Assam Government. The project is scheduled to be completed by December 2016, the Minister added.
India and Bangladesh have a 2,979-km land border and 1,116 km of riverine boundary. They also share 54 common rivers, including the Brahmaputra.
Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik said, �The State Government has submitted proposals to develop waterways between Tripura�s Gomati and Howrah and Bangladeshi rivers.
The Shipping Ministry has recently sanctioned Rs 12 crore and asked the State Government to submit detailed project reports (DPRs) to develop waterways between (Tripura�s) Gomti and (Bangladesh�s) Meghna rivers.�
�The Transport Department has asked the State�s Water Resource Department to prepare the DPR. After developing the Gomati-Meghna waterway, the Shipping Ministry has assured us it would consider a Howrah-Titas-Meghna waterway,� Bhowmik told IANS.
He said that the State-owned RITES (Rail India Technical and Economic Services) had earlier conducted a preliminary feasibility study to create new inland water transport ways between the Gomati and the Howrah in Tripura with the Meghna and the Titas in Bangladesh.
Four inland water routes between India and Bangladesh are currently operational: Kolkata-Pandu (southern Assam) via Bangladesh, Kolkata-Karimganj (southern Assam) via Bangladesh, Rajshahi (Bangladesh)-Dhulian (southern Assam) and Karimganj-Pandu-Karimganj via Bangladesh. � IANS