The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) today held a first of its kind meeting in Shillong with stakeholders from the mining industry to promote the use of the national waterways for the transport of the cargo.
The meeting was chaired by Vinayak Azaad of the IWAI. Stakeholders from the mining sector who attended the meeting included coal mine owners who were recently granted scientific mining leases. Others present were either from sectors like logistics, transport, mining, terminal operator of Pandu and Dhubri stations in Guwahati, etc.
“The idea was to have an interaction and understand what the requirements are of the trade or the stakeholders,” Azaad said, adding that the Guwahati terminals are used to connect India and Bangladesh and the North East to the rest of India via Bangladesh. “This was an attempt to promote the use of the national waterways, particularly in the North East and also to integrate the North East through the rivers of our country and also through the IBP (Indo-Bangladesh Protocol) route.” he added.
Meanwhile, coal mine dealer Sajay Laloo said that trade through the waterways will help cut down on logistics if this project is promoted and developed in the state. “Logistics is the most important part of trade. It kills or either promotes the product. If the logistics cost is high then we will have no market to sell our products and if it is low then we will be very competitive in the whole world, which can help our coal to go everywhere.”
There are currently no waterway routes in Meghalaya but the IWAI has requested the state government to provide a list of navigable stretches of river for the transport of cargo. “Once we receive that we can have a further study from our side and, if possible, start the movement of cargo on those particular stretches in Meghalaya to Bangladesh,” Azaad stated.
According to the official, river transport is far cheaper than moving the equivalent cargo by road but it is little understood in Meghalaya or even the rest of the country.
“The movement of cargo through waterways is almost one-fourth of the cost of movement of goods by road, provided you have the right knowledge and available depth. So, it is not only economically viable, it is also environmentally friendly,” he explained.