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Monday, August 31, 2009

Waterways to Barak Valley through Bangladesh being explored

SILCHAR, Aug 31: The Government of India is planning to revive the waterway to Barak Valley through Bangladesh for regular, easy and cost effective transportation of goods. Rail and road links as well as waterway access with Bangladesh has remained suspended since 1956. The greatest handicap in navigation is the ever rising siltation in Barak river.

In the aftermath of the 2007 devastating floods, the Water Resources Department (WRD) took into serious consideration on the huge siltation in Barak and its major tributaries.

The WRD studied the phenomenon carefully and accordingly mooted schemes for deploying machinery along with amphibian mini-multipurpose dredger to have effective de-siltation and resectioning process of the river and its tributaries.

According to WRD sources, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) of the Ministry of Surface Transport, Government of India, planned to develop the waterways of Barak and Kushiara from Lakhipur to Karimganj point of the river with the declaration of the 121-km waterway as a national waterway.

The IWAI framed up an estimate of Rs 58 crore for the purpose including development of channels for navigation with the required minimum waterway of 40 metre width and 1.5 to 2.0 metre depth along with the construction of four terminals at Lakhipur, Silchar, Badarpur and Karimganj.

With the twin objective of survey and study of siltation problem in Barak and transportation of commercial goods, Central Inland Water Transport carrier MV Prafullla sailed from Kidderpore dock in Kolkata to anchor at the terminal here on August 28 halting at Badarpur. Captain of the ship Samar Sarkar said if the waterway could be made navigational round the year, it would be the best means of transportation of goods which would benefit not only Asom but also all the North-eastern States.

Their investigation has so far revealed that at many places, the river bed has risen alarmingly with sand, wastes and boulder deposits. His opinion was that with the deployment of multipurpose dredger, the river bed has to be desilted and with electronic blastic machine, the boulders will have to be disintegrated. Besides, regular navigation as in the past would keep siltation at the minimum level.

The ship that MV Prafulla sailed from Kolkata with 550 tonnes of steel was unloaded at Narayanganj in Bangladesh.

After that it took, on board, 441 mt of bamboo at Jogighopa which was offloaded at Badarpur for the nearby Hindustan Paper Mill. The ship would now move upward to the last terminal at Lakhipur to complete the investigation. THE SENTINEL

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