Guwahati, Oct. 11: Efforts are being made to make the Brahmaputra, National Waterway 2, a “dedicated freight corridor” for the Northeast.
This was proposed by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to the DoNER ministry at a meeting in Delhi recently.
A dedicated freight corridor will enable the waterways authority regain its market share of freight transport by creating additional capacity and guaranteeing efficient, reliable, safe and cheaper options for mobility to its customers.
The waterways authority says about 20 lakh tonnes of cargo moves on NW2 annually and it has invested Rs 286 crore on development of NW2 since it became a national waterway in 1988.
“It has got great potential and all possible steps are being taken to make it realise its status as a national waterway,” a waterways authority official said.
The argument for a dedicated freight corridor gets a shot in the arm as promoters of hydropower plants coming up in Arunachal Pradesh have evinced interest using NW2 and tributaries for transportation of project cargo.
“The national waterway can be used as a dedicated freight corridor for ferrying traditional goods like jute, tea, coal from the Northeast to Bangladesh, Calcutta and foodgrain, fertilisers, fly ash, cement, steel, bitumen from Calcutta to the region,” a senior IWAI said.
The declaration of Ashuganj as a port of call in Bangladesh will improve connectivity to Tripura. while the Silghat port of call in Assam will enable transportation of products of Numaligarh Refinery Ltd and other refineries of the region to Bagabari in Bangladesh
“It has been observed that uprooted trees from the forest area in Dibrugarh-Sadiya stretch often block the navigable channel and safe movement of vessels through the main channel cannot take place. The authority plans for removing underwater wooden logs and others from the navigable channel and remove the same” the official said.
The authority has also prepared an action plan for making National Waterway 2 (Dhubri-Sadiya sector of Brahmaputra river) fully functional by 2011-12. This includes maintaining a 2.5 metre depth in Dhubri-Neemati stretch (630km), 2 metres between Neemati-Dibrugarh (138km) and 1.5 metres between Dibrugarh-Sadiya (123km).
For this purpose, IWAI has one cutter section dredger and one hydraulic section dredger (HSD) and it is getting four more cutter section dredger and one more HSD constructed for this waterway to maintain navigability.
Terminals at 11 locations are being maintained on NW2 for handling cargo vessels and ferrying passengers. The entire waterway is surveyed fortnightly and river notices are issued fortnightly.
The official said to make NW2 fully functional the linkage up to Calcutta through Indo-Bangladesh protocol route within Bangladesh should also be made fully functional in consultation with Bangladesh and the ministry of external affairs.
The official said as the road and railways have limitations because of the “chicken’s neck”, the inland water transport mode is a reliable mode for movement of cargo.