India-Bangladesh water transit project: Bangladesh approves dredging of Jamuna river

In a significant development in Modi government’s ambitious plan to develop river transport in India, on Wednesday the Bangladesh government gave its approval for a dredging project on the Jamuna river. The Brahmaputra river is known as Jamuna in Bangladesh, and it forms part of a river route from Varanasi in UP to Sadiya in Assam that Indian government has planned.

In December last year, the two nations had agreed to undertake dredging in two rivers in Bangladesh to facilitate round the year navigation on those routes. As part of the agreement, Sirajganj-Daikhowa section of the Jamuna river and Zakiganj-Ashuganj of Kushiyara river will be dredged with joint efforts of both the countries. India is funding 80% of the project cost, while the rest 20% will be borne by Bangladesh.

The dredging of the approximately 175 km length of the Jamuna river will cost Taka 227.46 crore, and Dharitri Banga Limited of Bangladesh has won the contract, who has to complete the dredging in two years and after that, they have to maintain it for 5 years. The river will be dredged to a depth of 2.5 meters and a width of 30 meters. Around 36 lakh cubic meters of sand will be removed from the riverbed in this project.

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Sirajnaganj is near the point where Jamuna (Brahmaputra) river meets with Padma (Ganga) river in Bangladesh, and Daikhowa is near the point where Brahmaputra river enters Bangladesh.

After the dredging work is completed, the river route will become navigable for cargo vessels and northeastern India will be connected to the rest of the country with a major waterway. This will bring down the cost of transportation for the states in the region.

Both India and Bangladesh are developing the said sections in Jamuna and Kushiyara rivers as part of Protocol Routes on an 80:20 cost-sharing basis. The other section on the Kushiyara river will link South Assam with the Ganga-Brahmaputra river system, enabling direct access to the rest of the country. The Kushiayara river is a branch of the Barak river in India which enters Bangladesh and forms Megha river after combining with Surma river. The Jamuna-Padma combine merges with Meghna river and continues as Meghna to the Bay of Bengal, forming the world’s largest delta.

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