Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the world’s longest river cruise-MV Ganga Vilas via video conferencing on January 13 besides inaugurating and laying the foundation stones for several inland waterways projects worth more than ₹ 1,000 crores during the event. This includes a ship repair centre at Pandu with an investment of ₹208 crore, besides a dedicated road connecting the Pandu Terminal to NH 27 which will enable 24-hour connectivity. It will be built at an estimated cost of ₹ 180 crores.
The Prime Minister pointed out that the cruise from Kashi to Dibrugarh will bring to the fore, places of tourism in North India on the world tourism map.
Addressing 32 tourists from Switzerland who are taking the cruise, Modi said, “Today, India has everything and a lot beyond your imagination.”
Throwing light on the experience of the river cruise, he informed the tourists that it has something special for everyone. He added that those seeking spirituality will enjoy destinations like Kashi, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Patna Sahib and Majuli, while tourists looking out for a multinational cruise experience will get the opportunity to experience Dhaka in Bangladesh, and those wanting to witness the natural diversity of India will cross through Sundarbans and the forests of Assam.
Observing that the cruise will pass through 25 different river streams, he said that the cruise has significant importance for those who wants to understand the river systems of India.
“One can witness the extraordinary amalgamation of the heritage of India and its modernity on this cruise,” Modi said while shedding light on the new era of cruise tourism where employment opportunities will be created for the youth of the country. “Not just foreign tourists but Indians who travelled to different nations for such an experience can head towards North India now,” the Prime Minister said. He said that similar experiences are being readied in other inland waterways of the country to boost cruise tourism while keeping in mind the budget as well as the luxury experience.
He said that this initiative will assist in making Eastern India a growth engine for a developed India.
Emphasising the need for training of the staff and skilled workforce, the Prime Minister informed that a Skill Development Centre has ahati. Addressing the inauguration and foundation stones laying ceremony, he expressed his gratitude towards the Prime Minister for the numerous initiatives undertaken at transforming the region into an engine of growth and development in the country.
He said that the cruise will be a game-changer in unleashing the potential of the tourism sector in eastern India and go a long way in realising the Prime Minister’s motto of “transformation of the North East through transportation”.
Dr. Sarma hoped that the Maritime Skill Development Centre would ensure that youths from the region would be able make use of the employment and self-employment opportunities the maritime sector would be providing in the days to come.
Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said that the Act East Policy of the Prime Minister was becoming a reality bringing growth & prosperity to the country.
Speaking on the occasion, the Minister said that Mr Modi’s vision to enable an affordable, sustainable, and smooth mode of transport is finally taking shape. He said that the revival of inland waterways in the country is proving to be a boon to landlocked regions like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and the North East.
Partha Pegu, Director Inland Water Transport, Assam told Asom Barta that
On February 18, the MV Ganga will arrive in Assam and three days later, on February 21, it will reach the Pandu Port.
Meanwhile, Biswajit Pegu, Deputy Commissioner of Dibrugarh district informed this reporter that the vessel will arrive in Dibrugarh on February 28. “It will halt for the night at Bogibeel. On March 1, the tourists will fly back from Dibrugarh,” Pegu said.