The Indian and Bangladeshi governments have undertaken an ambitious project to establish a new waterway between the two neighbours using the mighty Brahmaputra river, Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said here on Saturday.
"India and Bangladesh governments have signed an agreement to establish the news waterways between the two countries using the Brahmaputra river," Minister of State for Road Transport and Highways and Shipping Mandaviya told the media.
"Indian government would dredge the Brahmaputra river on its side and the Bangladesh authority would dredge the river on their side. We expect that within the next one year. The new waterway would be operational and it would boost the trade and people to people contact."
India is prioritising multi-modal connectivity in the northeastern region, including water connectivity, and already 16 waterway projects, mostly involving Bangladesh, have been approved.
India and Bangladesh have a 2,979 km land border and 1,116 km of riverine boundary. They also share 54 common rivers, including the Brahmaputra.
According to Tripura Transport Secretary Samarjit Bhowmik, the state government had submitted proposals to develop waterways between Tripura's Gomati and Howrah and Bangladeshi rivers.
The Shipping Ministry has recently sanctioned Rs 12 crore and asked the state government to submit detailed project reports to develop waterways between Tripura's Gomti and Bangladesh's Meghna rivers.
Since 1972, four inland water routes between India and Bangladesh are currently operational : Kolkata-Pandu (in southern Assam) via Bangladesh, Kolkata-Karimganj (in southern Assam) via Bangladesh, Rajshahi (in Bangladesh)-Dhulian (in southern Assam) and Karimganj-Pandu-Karimganj via Bangladesh.
Mandaviya, who came here on Saturday on a day's visit, met Chief Minister Manik Sarkar and Governor Tathagata Roy and discussed about various ongoing projects of his ministries.
The Minister, who is also Minister of State in the Chemicals and Fertilisers Ministry, discussed with Sarkar the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Bharatiya Jan Aushadhi Pariyojana with a view to provide quality medicine at affordable prices to all sections of the society, an official said.
He also held a meeting with the officials of National Highways and Infrastructure Development Corporation and Tripura PWD Department to discuss ongoing roadway projects.
According to the minister, currently Tripura has six national highways with a total length of 854 km.