We must harness the rivers for revolutionising water transport in Assam: Sonowal

Providing a major boost to the economic growth of the region, Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma along with Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal today attended the MoU signing programme between Inland Water Authority of India & Hooghly Cochin Shipyard Ltd. for setting up a new ‘Ship Repair Facility’ at Pandu in Guwahati.

As per the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the design and implementation of this project with best standards would be ensured. The technical support is to be provided by IIT Madras. The facility – also known as Slipway – is to be developed on a land of 3.67 acres provided by Government of Assam and is expected to be completed by August 2023. The facility is to be built at an estimated cost of Rs 75 crores.

The Union Cabinet Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, said that this endeavour is another step towards augmenting the economic development of the region with special emphasis on waterways connectivity for movement of big cargo from the region. He stated that the rivers will fuel Assam & NE’s growth and these waterways would be developed so that prosperity and employment opportunities can be ensured. Praising Prime Minister’s initiatives, he highlighted that Prime Minister Modi has relentlessly pushed for NE’s growth through Act East Policy and thus bringing the BBIN & ASEAN countries closer to NE region through Act East Policy.

While the infinite potential of waterways potential remains largely underutilised, Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi resolved to develop this untapped economic potential, the union minister said.

Union Minister Sonowal said that given the expected rise in vessels transporting cargo from the region, there will be an increasing demand for ship repair and maintenance, which at present, for this type of repair, the ships are sent to Kolkata for dry docking which is expensive, time consuming and tedious and thus the new slipway will overcome this hurdle and is also likely to create employment in the state.

 “Before independence, the British used to export Assam’s products like timber, coal etc through the waterways to other parts of the world and we must harness the rivers for revolutionising water transport here”, Sonowal said.

Assam Chief Minister Dr Himanta Biswa Sarma, in his speech, said that there are nearly 200 vessels plying on the rivers of Assam and for repairing these vassals, they had to be taken to Kolkata earlier. Now, with this facility in Guwahati, repairs will be done here which will save time and money. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been putting lots of emphasis on the development of roads, railways, waterways, airways and internet connectivity in the NE for faster development, he said.

He thanked Union Minister Sonowal for the decision to set up the Slipway at Pandu and for announcing to build a modern convention centre at Pandu Slipway site. He also requested the Union Minister for setting up a Maritime cum Shipping Institute in Assam so that required manpower for the emerging sector can be created while also generating employment opportunities for local youth.

Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary, Union MoS of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shantanu Thakur, MP Queen Oja, Secretary of Ports, Shipping and Waterways Ministry Dr Sanjeev Ranjan were also present on the occasion among others.