Longest vessel ever to sail on Brahmaputra completes pilot run

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Aiming to remove connectivity hitch and transportation bottleneck in the northeastern region, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is focusing on waterways via Bangladesh with the longest vessel ever sailing on Brahmaputra on Tuesday after completing cargo movement from Haldia (near Kolkata) via the India Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR).

The 90-metre-long vessel, MV Ram Prasad Bismil, along with two barges, DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam, carrying 1,793 metric tonnes of steel rods, successfully completed the pilot run by moving heavy cargo from Haldia dock to Pandu Port near Guwahati.

A senior IWAI official said the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways achieved a landmark on Tuesday when the MV Ram Prasad Bismil became the longest vessel ever to sail on Brahmaputra.

The 90-metre-long flotilla is 26-metre wide, loaded with a draft of 2.1-metre. It successfully completed the pilot run of heavy cargo movement from Haldia dock after it anchored at Pandu Port on Tuesday.

The vessel along with two barges – DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam – was flagged off from the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Haldia by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, on February 16.

The consignment — 1,793 MT of steel rods from Tata Steel, Jamshedpur — had a draft requirement of 2 metres. The engineering marvel of this consignment remains at maintaining the minimum navigational draft of at least 2 metres, especially at critical stretches like the Sirajganj-Daikowa stretch of IBPR.

“The governments of India and Bangladesh funded the dredging of this stretch (Sirajganj–Daikowa) with 80:20 ratio, respectively, for seamless navigation. The IWAI as well as Bangladesh Inland Water Transport Authority (BIWTA) worked together so that this historic cargo movement could be carried out smoothly,” an IWAI official said.

Virtually speaking from Delhi, Sonowal said: “The vision of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to energise the ‘Ashta Lakshmi’ potential of northeast to power the growth engine of India.”

“Under his vision of ‘Transformation through Transportation’, we worked tirelessly to rejuvenate the water transportation in the region. This is not only the cheapest and 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,” he added.

“For the people of Assam, Brahmaputra is the lifeline. This was understood by the Prime Minister which is why he envisioned shaping the growth of this ecologically sensitive region via a medium that is widespread, economic and evniorment friendly,” Sonowal said.

On March 6, MV Lal Bahadur Shastri carried a consignment of 200 MT foodgrains for Food Corporation of India (FCI) from Patna to Pandu, successfully completing the pilot movement between Ganga, the National Waterway-1, and Brahmaputra, the National Waterway-2.

In addition to this, an over dimensional cargo for Numaligarh Refinery was also transported via IBPR further onto NW-2 earlier, an official statement said.

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