Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has unveiled a substantial investment of Rs 1,126 crore to bolster waterway connectivity in Northeast India. Responding to a query in Rajya Sabha, he highlighted that this funding will be utilised for five crucial projects on rivers Brahmaputra (NW 2), Barak (NW 16), Dhansiri (NW 31), and Kopili (NW 57), with the objective of leveraging waterways to enhance ties with neighboring nations.
Recognising the strategic importance of rivers in fostering connectivity and prosperity, 20 rivers in Northeast India were designated as National Waterways under the National Waterways Act, 2016. The central government’s approval of these five projects is aimed at facilitating the development of Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) infrastructure to support trade expansion strategies and promote economic growth within the region.
The comprehensive development of river Brahmaputra (NW 2) will receive an allocation of Rs 474 crore, while the development of river Barak (NW16) along the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR) will be undertaken with a budget of Rs 148 crore. Rivers Dhansiri (NW 31) and Kopili (NW 57) are planned to be developed with an outlay of Rs 116 crore. Additionally, a vital alternative road connecting Pandu Port in Guwahati to NH 27 has been sanctioned at a cost of Rs 180 crore, along with the execution of a ship repair facility at Pandu Port on NW 2, amounting to Rs 208 crore.
Sarbananda Sonowal emphasised the role of Act East Policy in facilitating economic cooperation, cultural ties, and strategic relationships with Asia Pacific countries by enhancing connectivity to Northeast India. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has taken on projects to connect Northeast states with neighboring countries like Myanmar and Bangladesh, further strengthening India’s ties with the region.