Sonowal lays the foundation stone for the Inland Waterways Transport Terminal in Assam

Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal laid the foundation stone for the Inland Waterway Terminal (IWT) to be built at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh in Assam on Tuesday.

The terminal is to be built on the banks of the Brahmaputra River, which falls under National Waterways 2 in Assam.

According to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, “The IWT tourist and cargo terminal will be developed at a cost of Rs. 46.60 million and is scheduled to be completed by February 2024. Once developed, this terminal is likely to play a vital role in reviving inland waterways in the region for both freight and passenger traffic and paving the way for trade and commerce growth.”

On that occasion, Sarbananda Sonowal said: “It is a momentous day for the people of Assam as we focus on rejuvenating inland waterway transport in the region by further strengthening the infrastructure of the capital, Bogibeel.” The new jetty will help us to realize Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji’s vision of enabling waterway transport as a transformative factor.”

“We must respect and celebrate the immense potential that ‘Mahabahu Brahmaputra’ possesses and make the best use of it to drive efficient development and progress, without citing environmental or economic costs. Given the historic role that Dibrugarh has played in the past as a hub of inland waterways, I believe this modern terminal at Bogibeel will act as a catalyst to regain Dibrugarh’s lost glory as a major trading hub and herald growth for the upper region Assam, Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in the coming days,” he added.

Under the auspices of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the node agency for inland waterways of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), the IWT terminal will have many modern features. The terminal is owned by Indian Port Rail & Ropeway Construction Limited.

Key features include, but are not limited to, cargo and passenger berths, access and other internal roads, a transit shed, an open storage area, a truck parking area, and a passenger waiting area. The development of the terminal will play a crucial role in the development of Upper Assam and neighboring states such as Arunachal Pradesh and Nagaland in terms of both cargo and passenger transportation. This will also lead to an increase in eco-tourism and facilitate the transportation of EXIM cargo at comparatively lower transportation costs compared to other goods.

Given the growing popularity of inland waterways as an economical and efficient mode of transport, other new industries such as food processing, pharmaceuticals, cement, etc. could emerge in the region while further improving economies of scale for existing key trades such as tea, polymer, coal, fertilizer, etc.

The modern terminal is also likely to play a crucial role as a harbinger of growth for the tourism sector with major destinations such as Sibsagar, Majuli, Itanagar, Ziro Valley, Pasighat, Roing, Tawang Valley, etc.

As part of the Prime Minister’s Act East Policy, MoPSW and IWAI have made transformative changes to the waterways sector in India over the past nine years.

These measures have resulted in extraordinarily remarkable changes in the country. In order to develop waterways in the Northeast region, IWAI has made every effort to preserve the fairway in the Brahmaputra River through dredging and other river protection works. Navigation aids and night navigation systems are also present in the river up to Silghat. Permanent terminals have been developed at Pandu and Dhubri.

In the past two years, Dhubri terminal has been extremely useful and 385 cargo ships have moved from Dhubri to Bangladesh. In order to use Pandu terminal effectively, an alternate road is under construction connecting Pandu terminal to NH-27. The project costs amount to 180 billion rupees.

The construction of the Bogibeel IWT will encourage industrial growth and lead to further demands on transportation needs. It will contribute to the socio-economic development not only of Assam but of the entire Northeast Zone as a whole.

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