New Delhi, Mar 15: The Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways achieved a landmark when the MV Ram Prasad Bismil became the longest vessel ever to sail on Brahmaputra. The 90 meters long flotilla is 26 meters wide, loaded with a draft of 2.1 meters.
With this, it successfully completed the aspiring pilot run of heavy cargo movement from Haldia Dock in Kolkata after it anchored at Pandu port in Guwahati today. The vessel along with two barges – DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam – were flagged off from the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Haldia by the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways (PSW) and AYUSH, Sarbananda Sonowal on February 16, 2022.
The significance of this pilot run lays down the path for commencement of barging operation from Kolkata to Guwahati via Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBRP). The consignment – loaded with 1,793 MT of Steel rods from Tata Steel in Jamshedpur – had a requirement of draft of 2.0 meters. The engineering marvel of this historic consignment remains at maintaining the minimum navigational draft of at least 2.0 meters, especially at critical stretches like Sirajganj – Daikowa stretch of IBPR.
The Government of India along with Government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh funded the dredging of this stretch – with 80:20 ratio respectively – for seamless navigation. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) as well as Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) worked together so that this historic cargo movement can move smoothly.
To revive & rejuvenate the vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to bring ‘Transformation through Transportation,’ the government took the onus of dredging and make the conduit a safe & smooth sail for vessels. Sarbananda Sonowal, closely followed all developments and personally monitored the dredging work done by IWAI at various areas in this stretch so that the movement between NW1 & NW2 can start on priority basis.
Speaking from Delhi, the Union Minister Sonowal said, “The vision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modiji is to energise the Ashtalakshmi potential of Northeast to power the growth engine of India. Under his vision of ‘Transformation through Transportation,’ we worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the water transport in the region. This is not only the cheapest & ecologically most adapt mode of transportation, it also allows the long awaited connect for the business of Northeast through the marine network with the rest of the world. As the pilot run of this longest vessel plying on the Brahmaputra anchors a success at Pandu today, we must recognise that this was made possible by the team to chalk out a working route during this season of challenging depth at many stretches. We remain deeply committed to bring business viability of water transport in Assam and reinvigorate the vitality of Brahmaputra as Northeast India’s economic fortune.”
It must be noted that the minimum available depth for last two fiscal years; i.e. FY2019-20 and FY2020-21, between Dhubri and Pandu stretch was 2.2 meters at Brahmaputra. As per recent LAD report, this depth depleted further and drastically reduced to 1.5 metres in January, 2022. From Chilmari to Daikhawa, the required depth of 2.2 meters was confirmed by BITWA.