GUWAHATI, Sept 18 - The Central and State Governments have decided to give more stress on development of inland water transport system to connect the North East region with the rest of the country through Bangladesh and initial works in this regard have started.
Talking to The Assam Tribune, Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said that he recently had a detailed discussion with the Union Minister for Surface Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari on the issue and the Centre has already promised all necessary help in this regard.
Patowary revealed that the World Bank has already provided assistance to Assam to develop the inland water ports and jetties and the Government would also seek private participation to improve the inland water transport network. He pointed out that water transport connectivity through Bangladesh would not only improve connectivity to the region, but the transportation of goods to the region from the rest of the country would become much cheaper. He said that this would also help the Government�s efforts to bring in investment to the State.
The Minister said that as a part of the plan, the jetties all over the State would be modernized with improvement of passenger amenities and cargo handling capacity, while, at the same time, the Pandu and Dhubri ports would be developed. The Inland Water Transport Department of the State Government has already been transformed into a Society so that it would be easier for the organization to receive external aids. At least 16 barges of the Inland Water Transport Department were hired out to Haldia port in West Bengal during the tenure of the previous Government and steps have been initiated to bring those back so that those can be extensively used in the State.
Patowary pointed out that transportation bottleneck is one of the main hurdles in attracting investments to the State as the potential investors always claim that it would be difficult to bring in machinery and raw materials to the State. At the same time, the North East market is not adequate for any major industry. But if the water transport network can be developed, the problem would be solved and it would become easier for the Government to attract investments. This will also help in implementation of the Act East Policy of the Government of India, he added.