In Assam and Manipur hill area, to declare the 121 km Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River as a National Waterway the Union Cabinet on January 10 approved the introduction of a Bill in the Parliament. The Cabinet also gave its approval for preparation of projects/schemes for development of infrastructure facilities on this stretch of the river at an estimated cost of Rs.123 crore with implementation in two phases.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) set up under IWAI Act, 1985 will be the implementing agency for this project. The first phase of the project would be completed by 2016-17 followed by the second phase which is likely to be completed by 2018-19.
The enactment to declare Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River as National Waterway will result in unified development of the waterways for shipping and navigation and transportation of cargo to the North Eastern Region particularly in the states of Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh.
The Union government has so far declared five waterways as National Waterways. These are:- (i) Allahabad-Haldia stretch of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (1,620 km); (ii) Dhubri-Sadiya stretch of Brahmaputra River (891 km); (iii) Kottapuram-Kollam stretch of West Coast Canal along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals (205 km); (iv) Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of the canal along with designated stretches of Godavari and Krishna Rivers (1078 km); and (v) designated stretches of East Coast Canal, Brahmani River and Mahanadi Delta (588 km). The Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak River would be the sixth National Waterway.