Sonowal bats for robust trade ties with neighbour nations through waterways

Guwahati, April 12: Union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal said that robust business relations could be anchored with our neighbour nations through optimal and holistic development of the waterways ecosystem.

Sonowal was speaking at the inaugural session of the Waterways Conclave 2022, a two-day event organised by the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways, and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) in Dibrugarh on Tuesday.

“Within a radius of 2000 kilometres, we have all big cities with a combined population of 800 million,” the minister said, while adding that waterways can provide immense opportunities for our young entrepreneurs.

The Union minister further invited the industry to proactively partner the government in the waterways sector and contribute to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Atma Nirbhar Bharat vision.

In his address, Assam chief minister Himanta Biswa Sarma referred to the Rs 770-crore Assam Inland Water Transport project which is being implemented to provide safe and convenient ferry services to passengers.

Talking about the importance of the waterways ecosystem in the Northeast, Sarma said that the Brahmaputra basin possesses nearly 30 percent of India’s water resource potential and cargo movement through waterways would significantly reduce dependence on cargo transportation for roadways.

“Regular movement of cargo through waterways will create job opportunities and open the international market for local products through cost-effective transport,” he said.

Speaking at the conclave, Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, the minister of economic affairs, Royal Government of Bhutan, said that trade between Bhutan and India was increasing.

He invited the stakeholders to work towards enhancing links between Assam and East Bhutan, which has a vast potential in terms of economy of scale. “Leveraging waterways is the answer. We are looking forward to regional connectivity,” Sharma said.

Highlighting the potential of the waterways ecosystem in his country, Bangladesh minister of shipping, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury said, “There are 700 rivers in Bangladesh, out of which 54 are on the boundary between Bangladesh and India.”

Addressing the gathering virtually, Chowdhury said about 8480 kilometres of navigable waterways of Bangladesh could be utilised for transportation and distribution of goods between Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Bhutan.”


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