New Delhi: Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari and Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal will on Friday flag off the first vessels to carry cargo through National Waterways 2 (NW-2) on the river Brahmaputra.
For the maiden trip, two barges of 200-metric tonne capacity carrying 400 tonnes of cement will travel a distance of 255 kilometres from Pandu to Dhubri in Assam.
NW-2 has differential global positioning system (DGPS) stations at four locations—Dhubri, Jogighopa, Biswanthghat and Dibrugarh —for safe navigation by vessels with electronic charts. Floating terminal facilities have been provided at 12 locations.
Of the 106 new National Waterways notified in April 2016 under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 19 are in the north-east region.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) plans to initiate regular cargo movement through inland waterways under the Sagarmala programme on the same route. Transporting cargo through NW-2 will help lighten the load on roads and reduce logistics costs.
According to a shipping ministry statement, one horsepower can move 150kg on roads, 500kg on rail and as much as 4,000kg on waterways. Similarly, one litre of fuel can move 24 tonnes per km on roads, 85 tonnes on rail and 105 tonnes per km on waterways.
The IWAI will charge only Rs318 per tonne as waterway transportation charges from Pandu to Dhubri/Hatsingimari to encourage entrepreneurs and logistics operators to shift to the cost-effective and eco-friendly mode of transportation, which will also reduce road congestion.
The IWAI, in a statement, said it had been working closely with major cement makers, who had shown interest in moving cargo through waterways. Efforts are on to get other cargo owners to shift to waterways, it said.