GUWAHATI: A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed today for ferry service on the Brahmaputra to connect seven religious places in and around Guwahati.
The MoU for development of the ‘Riverine-based Religious Tourism Circuit’ was signed between the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Sagarmala Development Company Limited (SDCL), Assam Tourism Development Corporation Limited (ATDC) and the Directorate of Inland Water Transport (DIWT), in Guwahati. The total cost of the project is Rs 45 crore. While the Assam Government’s share in this project is 45%, SDCL’s share is 55%.
Union Ports, Shipping and Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and IWAI chairman Bandopadhyay were present at the MoU signing ceremony. The seven religious sites which will be connected through the ferry service are Kamakhya Temple, Pandunath, Ashwalknata, Doul Govinda, Umananda, Chakreshwar and Auniati Xatra.
The waiting lounge at the ferry terminal will be a modern facility providing a comfortable ambience for the tourists. The ferry will sail from Hanuman Ghat, Uzan Bazar and the ferry service is expected to reduce the overall travel time to less than 2 hours for completing one complete circuit. The ferry service will operate more than once in a day. DIWT has consented to provide the usage of ghats near the temples free of cost for the project. At Kamakhya, there will be an elevator on the Brahmaputra side. After getting down from the ferry, the tourists will hop into the elevator and it will take them to the temple.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma said, “River-centric religious tourism has always been of much importance in our country. Compared to the previous year, this year the flow of tourists to the State has increased by 575%. Growth in the tourism sector will open more employment opportunities and generate revenue for the State.
“Religious tourism will get a boost as the tourists will enjoy the rich spiritual heritage of Guwahati via this wonderful riverine circuit. Next we intend to boost connectivity in the hills through ropeways under the Parvatmala project of the Government of India. For this, we have already submitted five proposals to the Centre.”
Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal said, “The development of the Riverine-based Tourism Circuit is a huge shot in the arm for the tourism sector in Assam. This MoU has been possible due to the support of the Government of Assam. This project will unveil a new chapter in the riverine tourism sector of Assam.
“The Government of India and the Government of Assam are giving thrust on the development of waterways. Recently, the Sittwe Port in Myanmar was inaugurated. It will provide better connectivity, thereby enhancing export and import with the north-eastern region of Assam.
“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Act East Policy of India is being reflected in major developmental projects across the region. It is now that the people of the Northeast have understood what the Act East Policy is in the true sense.”