Speaking at the inaugural session of the Inland Waterways Conclave 2022, a two-day event organized by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the Government of India and the Indian Inland Waterways Authority (IWAI ) in Dibrugarh in Assam Chowdhury said that “there are 700 rivers in Bangladesh, 54 of which are on the border between Bangladesh and India”.
Chowdhury, while addressing virtually, said about 8480 kilometers of the Bangladesh waterway could be used for transportation and distribution of goods between Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said, “We could anchor strong trade relations with our neighboring countries through the optimal and holistic development of the waterways ecosystem. Within a radius of 2000 kilometers we have all major cities with a combined population of 800 million. Waterways could provide the best opportunities for our young entrepreneurs. »
Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma has said that Assam is implementing a Rs 770 crore river transport project to provide safe and convenient ferry services to passengers.
Sarma said the Brahmaputra basin has nearly 30% of India’s water resource potential and the movement of goods by waterway would significantly reduce the reliance on freight transport for roads.
“The smooth movement of goods through the waterways would create employment opportunities and open the international market to local products through cost-effective transportation,” he said.
Alluding to the importance of achieving efficiency in logistics and hence the waterways sector, Nitin Gadkari, Minister of Road Transport and Highways, Government of India, said in his virtual address that the cost of logistics is 8-10% (of goods cost) in China, 10-12% in European countries and about 12% in USA and 16% in India.
The minister asserted that waterways are the most cost-effective means of transport compared to road and railways, “regarding the logistics cost, the logistics efficiency of waterways is the ultimate mission for all of us “, he added.
G Kishan Reddy, Minister for Development of North East Region, Government of India, in his virtual address, said that the waterways would be immensely helpful in realizing the potential of the abundant natural resources in the North East.
Ashwini Vaishnaw, Minister for Communications, Electronics and Information Technology and Railways, Government of India, said we must try to achieve as high a share of the waterways sector as possible in the mix logistics, including rail, road and inland waterways. .
“One liter of fuel will transport one tonne of freight, 24 kilometers by road, 95 kilometers by rail and an impressive 215 kilometers by waterway,” the minister said.
Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Chairman of the Inland Waterways Authority of India, said: “We are not only trying to connect with neighboring countries but also with all the states in this region and extending to the ‘Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha’. .
Sanjeev Ranjan, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, said a record movement of 4.5 million metric tons under the India Bangladesh Protocol route had been achieved.
Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, Minister of Economic Affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan, said trade between Bhutan and India is increasing and called on stakeholders to work to strengthen the link between Assam and Eastern Bhutan, which has great potential in terms of economies of scale. “Leveraging the waterway is the answer,” he said, and added, “we look forward to regional connectivity.”
Dr Rajkumar Ranjan Singh, Minister of State for External Affairs, Government of India, said that almost 99% of the borders in the northeast region of India are international and stressed the need “to explore and draw from the proximity of the Bay of Bengal”.
Chandra Mohan Patowary, Assam’s Minister of Transport and Industry, said Assam alone has 1,500 kilometers of waterways out of the country’s 14,500 kilometres. The minister added that “all shipbuilders will enjoy the same benefits as industries under national and state policies.”
During the conclave, several MoUs were signed.