At least two new waterways for round the year navigability are expected to be ready over the next few months, along the Indo–Bangladesh Protocol Route, thereby bringing down travel time by at least 600-odd kms, and speeding up transport of cargo along the route.
This apart, India is investing nearly ₹245 crore (out of ₹305.84 crore) for improving navigability along the Sirajganj–Daikhowa and Ashuganj–Zakiganj stretches of the Indo–Bangladesh route on a 80:20 cost sharing basis. Around 20 per cent or ₹60 crore of the dredging cost (of ₹305.84 crore) is being borne by Bangladesh.
According to SarbanandaSonowal, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW), the “contracts for dredging on the two stretches for providing and maintaining the requisite depth for a period of seven years – from 2019 to 2026 – are underway.”
“The development of these stretches is expected to provide seamless navigation to the North Eastern Region (NER) via the India-Bangladesh Protocol route,” he said.
Currently, there are 8 routes along National Waterways 1 and National Waterways 2, and Sonowal said, with the addition of these two more routes, across India’s Farakka (in West Bengal) and Bangladesh’s Aricha, cargo movement time will come down substantially.
Under the existing Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route there are 13 ports of call on each side, which have been added.
“Apart from this, two new waterways routes have been included for improved accessibility,” Sonowal said, adding, “These two routes, called route no 5 and route no 6 run from Maia near Farakka in India to Aricha in Bangladesh. Dredging work is also underway to ensure round the year navigation.”
The Indo–Bagladesh Protocol Route is seen as a strategic one for India specially with relation to passenger movement and cargo transportation.
The North Eastern States of India are connected with eastern ones via the National Waterways 2 or the river Brahmaputra and the National Waterways 16 (via the river Barack ), the Ganga – Bhagirathi – Hooghly river system via Sunderbans ( that cover National Waterways 1 and National Waterways 97), and some river systems in Bangladesh. Under the protocol signed in 1972, inland vessels or cruise of one country can play on the designated waterway routes of another country.