The much-awaited dredging of mighty Brahmaputra is set to get under way in September-October this year, with two of six dredgers for the mega project already reaching Assam. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will carry out the dredging work from Sadiya to Dhubri in phased manner to get the National Waterways 2 operational.
Sources said a total of six dredgers will be pressed into service to dredge river Brahmaputra’s bed along its 841-km stretch through the State.
“Two cutter section dredgers have already reached the State and another two are on way. The IWAI has placed order for two more cutter section dredgers,” said a State Transport Department source.
A tripartite agreement for dredging of Brahmaputra from the eastern tip of Assam to its confluence with the Bay of Bengal in Bangladesh, along with construction of an expressway along the northern and southern banks of the river in Assam was signed in April this year.
The agreement was signed between Government of Assam, IWAI and National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) at the closing ceremony of 5-day-long Namami Brahmaputra festival in Guwahati early this year.
A 1,300 km expressway using silt from the river will be built along the North and South banks of Brahmaputra.
Speaking to The Sentinel, State Transport Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said: “Despite river Brahmaputra being declared National Waterway-2, the river route remained unused ever since the British left our country. Hitherto, it had been the British who utilized the river route for various purposes.”
“We have now decided to dredge the river so that the waterway on it can be made operational,” Patowary added.
He said that after completion of the dredging project, Ro-Ro (Roll-on Roll-off) service will be rolled out on the entire stretch of the river by 2018.
The Inland Water Transport Department has already successfully introduced Ro-Ro service on the Brahamputra in Dhubri district.
Patowary mentioned that the cutter section dredger brought for dredging will not be sent back after completion of dredging work. “It will be stationed here permanently,” he said.
The Transport Minister further said that the State government will also look into whether dredging can help in de-silting the river bed, thereby enhancing its water carrying capacity so as to mitigate the perennial flood problem in Assam.