India's "longest river cruise service" will begin early next year between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and Bogibeel in Assam, traversing a distance of more than 4,000 km, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal has said.
The route will connect rivers Ganga and Brahmaputra via Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBRP), the Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) stated.
The service will usher in a novel opportunity for the people of Assam to use inland waterways for promoting their trade, tourism and for cargo transportation, he said on Monday, launching multiple projects for the development of the area in and around the Bogibeel bridge in Dibrugarh district.
The Union Minister laid the foundation stone for the construction of floating jetties at Bogibeel and Guijan, besides inaugurating the Bogibeel Riverfront Passenger Jetty which has been built by the Northeast Frontier Railways (NFR) as part of the development initiatives near the bridge.
Gati Shakti National Master plan
Mr. Sonowal, on the occasion, said Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision to harness the potential of an economic and ecologically sound logistics avenue of inland waterways is being realised through the Gati Shakti National Master plan.
"The Gati Shakti plan is exactly the key to unlock the huge potential of inland water transportation in Assam using National Waterways 2 on our river Brahmaputra. We must tap this opportunity and build an economic advantage which will power the whole of Northeast India as the New Engine of growth for India," he said.
The BJP government is also identifying avenues to promote inland navigation, river cruise tourism, and construct suitable terminals across the Brahmaputra, he maintained.
The two floating jetties at Bogibeel in Dibrugarh district and Guijan in Tinsukia will be constructed as state-of-art terminals at an estimated cost of ₹8.25 crore, using advanced and updated technology.
The project is scheduled to be completed by February, 2023, the Minister said.
Plans are also afoot to build an open platform, a restaurant, eight bio-toilets and six awnings as part of the riverfront development initiatives near the bridge, he added.
The Union Minister of state for petroleum and natural Gas and labour, Rameswar Teli and the General Manager of NF Railways Anshul Gupta were among those present on the occasion.