India agrees Rs200 crore support for dredging to boost use of inland waterways

The initiative was taken to encourage private shippers to use inland waterways via India-Bangladesh protocol route


In an effort to encourage private shippers to use inland waterways via India-Bangladesh protocol route, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has agreed to spend Rs200 crore for the dredging and maintenance of fairways of rivers up to the Indian side in the north-east region. 

"The inland waterways authority has agreed to spend Rs200 crore for dredging and maintenance of fairways for three years in some pockets such as Pandu and Dhubri in the north-east region, where there are some bottlenecks for sailing of barges,” Vinit Kumar, the chairman of Kolkata port and a member of  IWAI told the media.  

“This support is not part of a grant to Bangladesh for dredging in the India-Bangladesh protocol route," He said.

Kumar added that cargo movement to Bangladesh and India's northeast is quite successful while using the India-Bangladesh protocol route.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India seeks to maintain a minimum draft of 2.5 metres for smooth sailing of barges, PTI reports citing Vinit Kumar .

"Now at any point in time, 100 barges are on our river channel. There are some bottlenecks in the NE (northeast) side which will be sorted out with the proposed dredging at Rs200 crore," Kumar said.

A dedicated floating crane will be made available by Kolkata Port for use in container transloading operations at West Bengal's Sagar and Sandhead.

According to Kumar, the transloading operations will also facilitate the transportation of imported commodities to the northeastern regions.

“Cargo movement from Kolkata to the north-east through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route will not only reduce transit costs by 25% and time by two to three days, but will also help to develop the economy of that part of India,” said Vinit Kumar.

Indo-Bangladesh Protocol on Inland Water Transit & Trade exists between India and Bangladesh under which inland vessels of one country can transit through the specified routes of the other country. 

According to the BIWTA, both neighbouring countries signed the agreement to make beneficial trade arrangements for the use of their waterways for commerce between the two countries as well as for the passage of goods between two locations within one country and to third countries through the territory of the other.