New Delhi [India], February 28 (ANI): Welcoming 'MV Ganga Vilas', the world's longest river cruise at its culminating destination in Dibrugarh, Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday hailed it as a historic and path-breaking event to be witnessed in the Inland Waterways sector since India's Independence 75 years ago.
MV Ganga Vilas arrived at Bogibeel at 02:30 PM today, as the dignitaries led by Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal accorded a warm welcome to all the 28 foreign tourists travelling onboard.
With the successful end of its maiden journey covering a distance of over 3200 km, the MV Ganga Vilas opens up a new vista of opportunity in the river tourism potential in the entire South Asia region.
Earlier, the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi flagged off MV Ganga Vilas - the first indigenously made cruise vessel in India - from Varanasi on January 13, 2023. Built with a unique design and a futuristic vision, the cruise has three decks and 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists. It is already booked for to and fro journeys for the next two years. During this epoch-making journey, the tourists travelling onboard had an opportunity to travel via iconic places like Patna Sahib, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Dhaka, the Sunderbans and the Kaziranga before reaching Dibrugarh in Assam today.
Speaking at this historic moment, Sonowal said, "The successful completion of the world's longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, has exemplified how India under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi ji is ready to explore newer horizons to unlock value for the country. The robustness of the ship during the course of this journey shows how our tremendous strength in shipbuilding capacity is a world-class enterprise.""The successful cruise movement, as well as cargo movement on inland waterways, is a testament to the vision of PM Modi ji to bring about transformation through transportation. We continue to work under the dynamic leadership of PM Modi ji towards achieving Maritime India Vision, 2030; Sagarmal by 2035 along with PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan and National Logistics Policy. Today, we have realised another milestone to unlock tremendous potential in the blue economy of India," he added.
Speaking on the huge boost to the river economy in the Northeast region, Sonowal said, "Our glorious history of riverine trade is set to be reclaimed with the successful completion of the world's longest river cruise here today.
"With the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modi, we have reclaimed our access from the Brahmaputra to international marine trade routes via Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR)coastal ecosystem. The entire riverine economy through Arth Ganga has received a magnificent boost through the success of this River Cruise," he further added.
The dream of the Prime Minister for an alternate transport which is economical, safeenvironmentally sustainable has been truly realised with this success today.
He stated, "I firmly believe that by investing more in river transportation, we can make Modi ji's noble initiative of Net Zero - with a considerable reduction in pollution, an economical option."As Northeast India gets ready to power the engine of growth of India with its rich riverine system, I am sure the historic city of Dibrugarhthe whole region remains excited about the tradecommercial potential it carries forth in the ensuing days."'MV Ganga Vilas' has put India and Bangladesh on the river cruise map of the world. It has opened a new vista and vertical for tourism and freight carriage in the Indian sub-continent.
Tourists, both domestic and global who would like to experience spirituality now have the opportunity to visit destinations like Kashi, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, and Patna Sahib and those who want to explore the natural diversity will cover destinations like Sundarbans and Kaziranga. Through this route tourists have an immersive expedition while exploring the art, culture, history, and spirituality of both India and Bangladesh.
Sarbanda Sonowal congratulated everyone who has contributed to the success of the world's longest river cruise journey by MV Ganga Vilas and encouraged all other private sector operators to identify the river cruise circuits of their choice on various waterways and to enter this nascent sector and be a part of river cruise tourism ecosystem in the country for the wider prosperity of the country especially North Eastern Region. He appeals to all entrepreneurs and trade leaders to work together for reaping benefits from waterways.
The seamless movement of MV Ganga Vilas has established the viability of seamless movement of vessels between Ganga Valley and Brahmaputra Valley; i.e., from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Kolkata using the IBPR.
For Northeast India, the major highlight of MV Ganga Vilas's successful voyage is the opportunity to use the inland waterways to reach the seaports and access the world of international trade routes.
Under the Jal Marg Vikas Project of the Ministry of Ports, ShippingWaterways (MoPSW), the Narendra Modi government is investing more than Rs6,000 crores to revamp the inland waterways through Arth Ganga and Mahabahu Brahmaputra projects. This is pivotal to the all-round development of Northeast India.
The event was also graced by the Minister of State, Ministry of Shipping (I/C), Government of Bangladesh, Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury; the Union Minister of State for Ports, ShippingWaterways and Tourism, Shripad Yesso Naik; the Union Minister of State for LabourEmployment and PetroleumNatural Gas; the Union Minister of State for Education and External Affairs, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan.
Freight movement by ship is cheaper than other means of transport. A goods train can carry 2000 metric tons (MT) in a single run, while a ship can carry 60,000 to 80,000 MT and as such the volume of transportation through the ship makes the whole freight cost-effective.
Carrying such a huge volume of coal by ship is helping in feeding many power stations at a time and keep them functional without break hence it is always cheaper by ship than any other means.
The pricing of freight per MT through roadways is Rs. 1.5 and through railways is Rs. 1.25 while through shipping is Rs. 0.6. From 2004 to 2014, the coastal cargo growth was 25 per cent while in the last years, the registered growth has been 77 per cent that too in just eight years, and this could become possible because of our PM's vision and proper implementation of the policies which was then supported by the concerned ministries by putting their best possible efforts. (ANI)