The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has signed a MoU with the Numaligarh Refinery Limited (NRL) to use National Waterways-2 (Brahmaputra) and Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR) for export of petroleum products to Bangladesh and other south east Asian countries.

The MoU is aimed at powering PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan to boost India’s Act East Policy.

As per a statement from the Ministry, the Numaligarh Refinery will export around 10,000 million tonnes (MT) of petroleum and petrochemical products per month from IWAI Jogighopa Multi Modal terminal.

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The Numaligarh Refinery will set up POL Oil Terminal at Jogighopa Logistics Park with rail connectivity.

Calling it a “watershed moment” for the inland waterways and for promotion of trade in the north east, Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, said: “The MoU is aimed at powering the PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan to bring in transformative change in the cargo movement for the region. Our rich inter web of our waterbodies and rich potential of hydrocarbon must be explored in the best possible manner to power the Northeast region.”

Under this MoU, the IWAI will provide its terminal for cargo movement, providing technical support, land to lay down petroleum pipeline, bunkering facilities to be operated at various places en-route IBPR, provide assistance through its vessels, technical assistance in making available vessels like Tugs, Work Boards, Survey vessels and other vessels as and when required.

The Numaligarh Refinery will provide 40 acres of land with a provision of getting connected to nearest Railway station at Jogighopa; erect the loading and unloading facility; apart from transportation of petroleum.

NRL is also in the process of executing the Numaligarh Refinery Expansion Project (NREP), a refinery expansion cum modernisation project with a capex of Rs 28,026 crore.

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According to Sonowal, as part of the project, Numaligrah Refinery shall transport 16-odd Over Dimension Consignment / Overweight Consignment (ODC/OWC).

“Already five ODC packages have been transported successfully from major industrial hubs in western India to NRL project site via the Haldia Port and through the IBPR and NW2. The weight of cargo transported till now amount to approximately 4,500 Metric Tonnes and if it was transported via roadways would have required about 300 trucks,” he said.

Cargo handled on National Waterways during 2013-14 was a mere 6.89 mt and rose to 126.15 mt in 2021-22, a 1734 per cent growth. Investment in waterways is up at Rs 544.31 crore in 2022-23, up 198 per cent in nine years.