Center for the development of 5,000 km of waterways as the eastern network: Sarbananda Sonowal

The center will open up the Eastern Grid with 5,000 kilometers (km) of navigable waterways. According to Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, this will unlock a multilateral trade potential of US$49 billion. Speaking at the 2nd Inland Waterways Summit organized by the PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PHDCCI), Sonowal said the development of this network will boost regional integration and accelerate development.

“The move aims to deepen East India’s trade within the BBIN (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal) countries. It will also further enhance trade potential with countries like Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore,” Sonowal said.

With the seamless connection between National Waterway (NW)-1 (Ganga), NW-2 (Brahmaputra) and NW-16 (Barak), the Government is striving to create opportunities through a 3500km economic corridor linking North East India with India connects rest of India, via Bangladesh. This will also connect Bhutan and Nepal to international trade routes with Bangladesh via an Indian-developed multimodal link.

“As India develops the port of Sittwe in Myanmar, regional economic integration, cooperation and reinforcement among BBIN, BIMSTEC and ASEAN countries can proceed smoothly,” the official statement said, adding that the region is one of the least integrated regions in the world.

The statement said the center aims to resolve issues with all stakeholders to ease tariff and non-tariff barriers, transit regulations, vehicle fleet interoperability and many such technical constraints in the Northeast. “Beyond the economic benefit, the network also provides the region with a strategic advantage of access to international trade routes as well as climate resilience,” the statement said.

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