Silchar July 24: The Union ministry of shipping has sanctioned Rs 92.05 lakh to upgrade infrastructure and port facilities between Lakhipur and Bhanga along the Barak river — the second largest river in the Northeast. This stretch is expected to be upgraded to National Waterway 6.
Sources in the Karimganj office of the Central Inland Water Transport Corporation Limited said the funds would be utilised in desilting the Barak and Kushiara (a branch of Barak) rivers by carrying out deep water dredging.
However, the bill to upgrade the Barak into a national waterway has not yet been passed by Parliament.
The funds will also be used to clear the massive boulders that are strewn across the riverbed. The corporation’s engineers plan to blow up the boulders using explosives. High-tension wires over the river were also an impediment for ships.
Former chairman-cum-managing director of the corporation, Prafulla Tayel, had carried out a spot survey of the rivers in Cachar and Karimganj districts in August 2009 to get acquainted with the hurdles that the cargo steamers would regularly face there.
Sources said south Assam’s international trading ties with Dhaka would get a boost if the river route between Calcutta, Karimganj, Badarpur and Silchar river ports were overhauled.
Currently, export and import of goods is carried out by road at the international trade centre in Suterkandi village in Karimganj on the Indo-Bangla border. Two-way traffic for export and import of goods by barges, capable of carrying the goods ranging from 600 to 1,200 tonnes, is carried out through Calcutta’s Chandpal ghat river port to Karimganj river port during five months in the pre-monsoon and monsoon months.
On an average, seven cargo ships sail from both Calcutta and Karimganj during the rainy season and make the 1,300km river journey.
Items from the Northeast, such as coal, oranges, plums, stainless steel, dry chillies, ceramic and sanitary wares, finished cultural paper, tea chests and marble tiles are ferried to both Bangladesh and Calcutta.
The ships return from Bangladesh carrying fruit juices, hilsa fish, cement, melamine products, items of metal furniture and toiletries.