Longest ever vessel to sail on Brahmaputra completes pilot run

The longest ever vessel to sail on the Brahmaputra river, the MV Ram Prasad Bismil, completed a pilot delivery of heavy cargo to the Pandu Port, Guwahati on Tuesday.

The delivery marks the beginning of barging operations from Kolkata to Guwahati via the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR), made possible by dredging of key stretches of Brahmaputra by India and Bangladesh governments to enable seamless navigation.

Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said 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.” He had flagged off the vessel, which was loaded with 1,793 metric tonnes of steel rods and two barges DB Kalpana Chawla and DB APJ Abdul Kalam, from Haldia on February 16.

A government release said 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 government of People’s Republic of Bangladesh funded the dredging of this stretch — with 80:20 ratio respectively,” it read. The minimum navigational draft or depth required to sail for the MV Ram Prasad Bismil was 2.0 metres.

The vessel has previously carried a consignment of 200 metric tonnes of foodgrains for Food Corporation of India from Patna to Pandu, and
successfully completed the pilot movement of cargo between Ganga, the National Waterway 1 and Brahmaputra, the National Waterway 2.

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