Government plans waterway freight corridor via Bangladesh to northeastern states
The government is working on a plan to set up a waterway freight corridor to connect the mainland with the northeastern states via Bangladesh at a cost of Rs 5,000 crore.
The move would reduce the time taken to transport goods to the eight northeastern states and costs. The proposed 900-km waterway would be used to transport freight from the northern and eastern states to the northeast and would start near Haldia in West Bengal, go to the Sundarbans, merge into the Padma river in Bangladesh and then join up with the Brahmaputra in Assam.
“We are working on the details of the project. It would substantially improve connectivity between the mainland states and northeast. The cost of freight transportation would come down substantially,” shipping secretary Gopal Krishna said.
Currently, highway connectivity to the northeastern states is patchy and transportation of goods by road entails a high cost and takes time. According to estimate, the waterway could help reduce the cost of transportation by about 70%.
The government is already developing a waterway along the Ganga river between Haldia and Allahabad (1,620 km) at a cost of Rs 4,500 crore. This link will also be utilised for trade between India and Bangladesh. India and Bangladesh share a 4,095-km border, of which 1,116 km is along rivers. Krishna said Bangladesh plans to use Indian ports as transhipment hubs.
“Instead of using Colombo or Singapore as a transhipment hub, Bangladesh is now looking at India. Our own container traffic moving to Colombo has come down as transhipment is now happening at our ports,” he said.