Cen­tre plan­ning N-E wa­ter­way projects to boost con­nec­tiv­ity

Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur) - - Hhttnation - Anisha Dutta [email protected]


NEWDELHI: The Cen­tre is work­ing on de­vel­op­ing a net­work of wa­ter­way projects spread over 4,000 kilo­me­ters in the North­East and neigh­bour­ing coun­tries like Bangladesh to en­hance con­nec­tiv­ity to the re­gion as part of its Act East pol­icy of de­vel­op­ing bet­ter eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal re­la­tions with South-east Asia.

The seven states of In­dia’s north­east­ern re­gion are de­pen­dent on a nar­row stretch of about 22-kilo­me­tre land in West Ben­gal’s Siliguri for con­nec­tiv­ity to the rest of the coun­try. Nepal and Bangladesh are lo­cated on ei­ther side of the cor­ri­dor.

The ship­ping min­istry made a pre­sen­ta­tion re­gard­ing the wa­ter­way projects to the Fif­teenth Fi­nance Com­mis­sion. It said the net­work was aimed to con­nect “heart of In­dia” to the re­gion’s “ex­treme end” to boost trade. “We are work­ing to­wards the decongestion of the high­ly­con­gested Siliguri Cor­ri­dor and es­tab­lish­ing an al­ter­nate modal choice for cargo and pas­sen­ger move­ment,” a min­istry of­fi­cial said re­quest­ing anonymity.

The In­dia-bangladesh Pro­to­col on In­land Wa­ter Tran­sit and Trade (PIWTT) al­lows In­dian and Bangladeshi ves­sels to use iden­ti­fied wa­ter­ways in the two coun­tries. The two coun­tries had de­cided that the 309-km Ashuganj–zaki­ganj stretch of the Kushi­yara River and 146-km Si­ra­j­ganj–daikhowa that of the Ja­muna will be de­vel­oped for round the year nav­i­ga­tion as part of PIWTT. The Si­ra­j­ganj–daikhowa stretch can fa­cil­i­tate con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Na­tional Wa­ter­way-1 [the Ganga) and Na­tional Wa­ter­way-2 [the Brahma­pu­tra] and en­able move­ment of larger ves­sels from Varanasi in Ut­tar Pradesh to As­sam’s Sadiya via Bangladesh. (What about the Ashuganj–zaki­ganj stretch).

In­dia is work­ing to de­velop the Na­tional Wa­ter­way-1 as part of the World Bank-funded ₹5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas Project from Hal­dia in West Ben­gal to Varanasi.

Bangladesh and In­dia also signed an agree­ment for pas­sen­ger and cruise ser­vices. In­dia will also soon be able to use Bangladesh’s busiest ports – Chit­tagong and Mongla – for cargo move­ment. In Myan­mar, In­dia is work­ing on ₹2904.04 crore Kal­adan Multi-modal Tran­sit Trans­port Project to pro­vide an al­ter­nate route to the North-east. It will con­nect Myan­mar’s Sit­twe Port to the re­gion. It is ex­pected to con­trib­ute to North-east’s eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment by open­ing up the sea route to it. It, too, will re­duce pres­sure on the Siliguri Cor­ri­dor.

“We are pro­vid­ing con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween Hal­dia and Kolkata by sea up to Sit­twe [539 km] through in­land wa­ter­ways ter­mi­nal up to Paletwa [158 km] and by road [121 km] to the Indo-myan­mar Bor­der to Mi­zo­ram. We have al­ready com­pleted phase 1, which in­volved sea dredg­ing on Sit­twePaletwa stretch of Kal­adan river. The road con­struc­tion along the bor­der has also be­gun,” the of­fi­cial said.

In­dia is also look­ing to es­tab­lish in­land wa­ter­way con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween In­dia and Nepal as de­cided dur­ing the Nepalese PM Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli’s visit to In­dia in April 2018.

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