Guwahati: The self-propelled vessel MV Lal Bahadur Shastri carrying 200 MT of foodgrains for the Food Corporation of India (FCI) completed its maiden pilot run from Patna to Pandu, Guwahati via Bangladesh on Sunday. 

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is planning to run a fixed schedule sailing between NW1 and NW2 heralding a new age of inland water transport for Assam and Northeast India.

 The vessel started its sail from Patna on National Waterway-1 (river Ganga) and passed through Bhagalpur, Manihari, Sahibganj, Farakka, Tribeni, Kolkata, Haldia, Hemnagar; Indo Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route through Khulna, Narayanganj, Sirajganj, Chilmari and National Waterway-2 through Dhubri, and Jogighopa covering a distance of 2,350 km.

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Another vessel MV Ram Prasad Bismil with two barges Kalpana Chawla and APJ Abdul Kalam started the voyage from Haldia on February 17 and is on the way to Pandu. 

The vessel is carrying 1800MT of steel and already reached Bangladesh Border at Dhubri. The ODC (over Dimensional cargo, 252 MT) of Numaligarh Bio-refinery reached Silghat on 15th February from Haldia through IWT via the IBP route. 

Another ODC (250MT) consignment is also on the way to Silghat.

Speaking on the occasion, the Chief Minister of Assam, Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “The start of cargo movement through ships through Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBRP) marks the beginning of a new age of economic prosperity for the whole region of Northeast.”

Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, said, “Today marks the beginning of a new age of inland water transport in Assam. This is going to provide the business community with a viable, economic & ecological alternative.”

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He added, “The seamless cargo transportation is a journey of unfulfilled desires & aspirations of the people of Assam.” 

He further stated that the government was confident that the cargo movement via waterways is going to play a pivotal role in energising India’s Northeast as the “engine of growth”.

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