GUWAHATI: The Centre is considering steps to develop the inland waterways to connect Northeastern states to the mainland. This would hasten economic development of the region significantly.
The inland waterways of Brahmaputra and Barak rivers have not been exploited to their full potential and can be developed furtehr, Union DONER Minister Mani Shankar Aiyar told reporters at the end of the 3rd sector summit of the Northeastern Council (NEC) here today.
Regretting that there has been “slow progress” to develop inland waterways, he said Assam could be connected to West Bengal through Bangladesh for transporting cargo at cheaper rates.
The route could be used to avoid the busy Siliguri corridor, while the river Barak will be used to connect the Southern part of the Northeast to mainland India, Aiyar informed.
He stressed the improvement of navigational systems and the urgency to improve the 178 waterway terminals that exist between Sadiya in Upper Assam to Dhubri in Lower Assam.
As the Brahmaputra originates from Arunachal Pradesh, the state could also be linked, thus strengthening the trade opportunities that could arise through inter-state contact.