Majuli (Assam), Dec 29 (PTI) In a major boost to inland waterway transport system in the northeast, Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari today flagged off cargo movement on the Pandu-Dhubri route of the Brahmaputra river. Also Read - MP Minister Climbs Atop 50-Ft High Swing For Better Phone Signal, Video Goes Viral | Watch

He said five bridges would be constructed on the river to ease transportation. Also Read - Monsoon Session Day 2: Lok Sabha Passes Essential Commodities Bill to Raise Farmer Income, Boost Agri Sector | Highlights

The bridges would connect Jorhat with Nematighat, Disangmukh with Tekeliphuta, Louit with Khablu, Numaligarh with Gohpur and North Guwahati with Guwahati, the minister said at the flagging-off ceremony in Majuli Island here. Also Read - 'Jammu And Kashmir to Reopen For Tourism Soon', Says J&K Administration

“Another roll-on, roll-off (ro-ro)’ ferry service to transfer passengers and vehicles in large numbers will start here soon,” Gadkari said.

Stating that modern and well-equipped river ports would be established along the banks of the river, the minister said transportation of cargo on the National Waterway 2 — from Pandu in Guwahati to Dhubri along the Assam-Bengal border — would reduce logistics cost and save 300-km road travel.

The 891-km stretch of the Brahmaputra river between Sadiya in the easternmost part of upper Assam and Dhubri was declared the National Waterway-2 in 1988.

Sources said the Inland Water Authority of India (IWAI) will charge Rs 318 per tonne of cargo from Pandu to encourage entrepreneurs and logistic operators to shift to inland waterway from road transportation.

Gadkari also laid the foundation stone for a new scheme for protecting Majuli Island from flood and erosion.

The Rs 233.57 crore scheme was framed by the Brahmaputra Board after taking into account the recommendations of a high-level expert committee of the central government.

Members of the committee visits the island at least twice a year to monitor anti-erosion measures, official sources said here.

As part of the scheme, riverbank revetment work would be carried out with sand or earth-filled geo bags at 14 locations.

Majuli district, with an area of 1,245 sq km, includes the main Majuli Island, a large number of smaller islands, some of which are inhabited, and the Brahmaputra river up to its south bank touching Jorhat and Sibsagar districts.

Although measures were taken by the Assam government in the past, the problem of erosion and flood remain largely uncontained, Brahmaputra Board sources said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.