On Thursday, the Numaligarh Refinery Ltd (NRL) and Inland Waterways Authority of India signed a pact to use National Waterways-2 (Brahmaputra) and Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR) for exporting petroleum products to Bangladesh and other southeast Asian countries.
According to the ministry of ports, shipping and waterways, under the MoU, per month, NRL will be exporting about 10,000 metric tons of petroleum and petrochemical products from the IWAI Jogighopa Multi Modal terminal. Also, NRL will be establishing a POL Oil Terminal at the Jogighopa Logistics Park with rail connectivity to strengthen the transportation infrastructure of the region.
It was added by them that the primary goal of that MoU was to fulfil the ‘Hydrocarbon Vision 2030 for Northeast’ by harnessing inland waterways transportation via NW2 and IBPR, ushering in a new era of export-import trade for the Northeastern region.
In the presence of Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and Union Minister of State for Petroleum and Natural Gas Rameshwar Tel, the MoU was signed by NRL’s chief general manager (Marketing) Subrata Das and IWAI director A Selva Kumar.
It was said by Sarbananda Sonowal that it was a watershed moment for inland waterways and the promotion of trade in Northeast India. The MoU aligned with the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan, which seeked to revolutionize cargo movement in the region. Under the visionary leadership of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Act East policy was unlocking the Northeast’s full potential as a key contributor to India’s growth story and that their extensive network of waterbodies and rich hydrocarbon resources must be leveraged to realize that vision.
The minister, while highlighting the significance of inland waterways said, “In line with the Prime Minister’s ‘Act East Policy,’ the IWAI and the ministry of ports, shipping & waterways have brought transformative changes to India’s waterways sector over the last nine years. Cargo handled on national waterways increased dramatically from 6.89 MMT in 2013-14 to 126.15 MMT in 2022-23, marking a phenomenal growth rate of 1734%. Cruise tourism on national waterways surged from 3 in 2013-14 to 10 in 2022-23, reflecting an increase of over 233%. Investments in waterways have also soared, reaching ₹544.31 crore in 2022-23, a 198% growth over the past nine years.”
It was also added by him that the Northeast region had seen significant development with 20 National Waterways and projects worth more than ₹800 crore underway. Permanent terminals had been established at Pandu and Dhubri. Over the last two years, 385 cargo vessels had moved from Dhubri to Bangladesh that showcased the transformative potential of the region’s waterways.
NRL is currently implementing the Numaligarh Refinery Expansion Project (NREP), a refinery expansion and modernization project with an investment of ₹ 28,026 crore. This project will contribute significantly to the growth of the region and NRL has already transported five over dimension/overweight shipments (ODC/OWC) through IBPR and NW2. The weight of the transported cargo so far is about 4,500 metric tonne which shows the efficiency and cost- effectiveness of water transport.