The longest ever vessel to have sailed on the River Brahmaputra – MV Ram Prasad Bismil – completed a pilot delivery operation of heavy cargo to the Pandu Port in India's Guwahati from Kolkata via Bangladesh on Tuesday.
The delivery marks the beginning of barging operations from Kolkata-Guwahati via the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR), reports Indian media.
This was made possible by dredging of key stretches of Brahmaputra by the Indian and Bangladesh governments to enable seamless navigation
Indian Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, addressing the development, said that the success of the pilot projects allowed "the long-awaited connect for the business of Northeast through the marine network with the rest of the world."
Sonowal had flagged off the vessel, which was loaded with 1,793MT of steel rods and two barges DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam, from Haldia on this year's 16 February.
According to an official release issued by the Indian authorities, the pilot run was made possible by combined efforts at dredging key stretches of the IBPR including the Sirajganj-Daikowa stretch.
"The government of India along with the government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh funded the dredging of this stretch – with 80:20 ratio respectively," it read.
The vessel has previously carried a consignment of 200MT of foodgrains for the Food Corporation of India from Patna to Pandu.
It also successfully completed the pilot movement of cargo between Ganga, the National Waterway-1 and Brahmaputra, the National Waterway-2.