The longest-ever vessel to sail on the Brahmaputra River, MV Ram Prasad Bismil reached the Pandu Port in Guwahati on Tuesday morning.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (PSW) Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the vessel along with two barges - DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam on February 16 from the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Haldia.
The 90 meters long flotilla is 26 meters wide, loaded with a draft of 2.1 meters. The consignment, loaded with 1,793 metric tonnes of steel rods from Tata Steel in Jamshedpur, had a requirement of a draft of 2.0 meters.
With this, it successfully completed the aspiring pilot run of heavy cargo movement from Haldia Dock in Kolkata as it anchored at Pandu Port. This pilot run lays down the path for commencement of barging operation from Kolkata to Guwahati via Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBRP).
“The engineering marvel of this historic consignment remains at maintaining the minimum navigational draft of at least 2.0 meters, especially at critical stretches like Sirajganj - Daikowa stretch of IBPR,” stated the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
The Government of India along with the Government of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh funded the dredging of this stretch, with an 80:20 ratio respectively, for seamless navigation. The IWAI as well as the Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) worked together for the smooth movement of the historic cargo. With this, IWAI is to initiate regular Barging Operations from Kolkata to Guwahati via Bangladesh on IBPR.
IWAI has done dredging work at various areas in the stretch so that the movement between National Waterways 1 and National Waterways 2 can start on a priority basis.
Sonowal, while speaking from Delhi, said that work has been done to rejuvenate the water transport in the Northeast. “This is not only the cheapest and ecologically most adapted mode of transportation, but it also allows the long-awaited connect for the business of Northeast through the marine network with the rest of the world,” Sonowal said.
“We remain deeply committed to bring business viability of water transport in Assam and reinvigorate the vitality of Brahmaputra as Northeast India’s economic fortune,” he added.