Barak to be developed as national waterways to open new vista of development

SILCHAR, Sept 9: The statement of Mukul Roy, Minister of State for Shipping, before the Parliamentary panel on September 6 in New Delhi that the Government of India is in the process of declaring Barak river stretch in Assam as the sixth national water way and to develop inland water infrastructure is nothing new.
This water way on Barak from Lakhipur to Bhanga, he pointed out, has been under the active consideration of his ministry. In fact, it was in 2008 that Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) of Ministry of Surface Transport had planned to develop the waterways of Barak and Kushiara from Lakhipur to Kushiara as soon as the Government declared the 121 km waterway route as national waterway.
The IWAI had even framed up an estimate of Rs 58 crore for the development of channels for navigation with the required minimum water ways of 40 metrewidth and 1.5 to 2.0 metre depth along with construction of four terminals at Lakhipur, Silchar, Badarpur and Bhanga. The plan as decided would facilitate in improving carrying capacity and steady bed flow of main river, thereby reducing flood and erosion problem to a great extend.Bank migration has been a major cause of worry due to heavy sloughing of the river.
The NH 44, regarded as the lifeline of supply for the region, is often threatened by complicated erosion management. It was then revealed by the former Union Minister Sontosh Mohan Dev in November 2007 to mediapersons here that he would impress upon the Central Government so that Asian Development Bank Mission visit Barak Valley to have an on the spot study. Nothing till date has happened.
But in order to make the waterway really navigational, Bangladesh has also to take up dredging of Meghna, Padma and other connected rivers to allow ships from Barak Valley to reach Kolkata easily and round the year. India will dredge Kushiara, Surma and Barak. Both the countries, particularly Barak Valley and Northeast, will be economically benefited. Rail, road and waterways have remained suspended between this valley and Bangladesh since 1956. For preliminary survey of the river Barak and transportation of commercial goods, it is to be recalled that a few months ago, CIWT carrier MV Prafulla sailed from Kidderpore, Kolkata, to anchor at Badarpur terminal. In course of its investigation and survey by it, the river bed was found to have risen at many placeswith sand, wastes and boulders.
It will be now watched with interest by the people of Barak Valley if the Centre is really seriousabout developing Barak as national waterway. The fate of two national projects- Silchar-Lumding BG and East-West Corridor is well known. (SentinelAssam)

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