50 days cruise was flagged o? from Varanasi by PM Shri Narendra Modi on Jan 13 Pioneering display of an Atmanirbhar Bharat; Ganga Vilas unlocks huge potential in South Asia From Varanasi to Dibrugarh; world’s longest river cruise passed 27 river systems with more than 50 tourist stops in India & Bangladesh.
Welcoming ‘MV Ganga Vilas’, the world’s longest river cruise at its culminating destination in Dibrugarh, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) hailed it as a historic and path-breaking event to be witnessed in the Inland Waterways sector since India’s Independence 75 years ago.
MV Ganga Vilas arrived at Bogibeel at 02:30 PM today; as the dignitaries led by the Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal accorded a warm welcome to all the 28 foreign tourists travelling onboard. With the successful end of its maiden journey covering a distance of over 3200 kms, the MV Ganga Vilas opens up a new vista of opportunity in the river tourism potential in the entire South Asia region.
Earlier, the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi flagged off MV Ganga Vilas – the first indigenously made cruise vessel in India – from Varanasi on January 13, 2023. Built with a unique design and a futuristic vision, the cruise has three decks and 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists. It is already booked for to and fro journey for the next two years. During this epoch making journey, the tourists travelling onboard had an opportunity to travel via iconic places like Patna Sahib, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Dhaka, the Sunderbans and the Kaziranga before reaching Dibrugarh in Assam today.
Speaking on this historic moment, Shri Sonowal said, “The successful completion of world longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, has exemplified how India under the leadership of PM Shri Narendra Modi ji is ready to explore newer horizons to unlock value for the country. The robustness of the ship during the course of this journey shows how our tremendous strength in ship building capacity is a world class enterprise. The successful cruise movement as well as cargo movement on inland waterways is a testament to the vision of PM Modi ji to bring about transformation through transportation. We continue to work under the dynamic leadership of PM Modi ji towards achieving Maritime India Vision, 2030; Sagarmal by 2035 along with PM Gati Shakti National Master Plan and National Logistics Policy. Today, we have realised another milestone to unlock tremendous potential in blue economy of India.”
Speaking on the huge boost to the river economy in the Northeast region, Shri Sonowal said, “Our glorious history of riverine trade is set to be reclaimed with the successful completion of world longest river cruise here today. With the visionary leadership of PM Narendra Modi ji, we have reclaimed our access from Brahmaputra to international marine trade routes via Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR) & coastal ecosystem. The entire riverine economy through Arth Ganga has received a magnificent boost through the success of this River Cruise.The dream of Hon’ble Prime Minister for an alternate transport which is economical, safe & environmentally sustainable has been truly realised with this success today. I firmly believe that by investing more in river transportation, we can make Modi ji’s noble initiative of Net Zero – with considerable reduction in pollution, economical option. As the Northeast India gets ready to power the engine of growth of India with its rich riverine system, I am sure the historic city of Dibrugarh & the whole region remains excited about the trade & commercial potential it carries forth in the ensuing days.”
‘MV Ganga Vilas’ has put India and Bangladesh on the river cruise map of the world. It has opened a new vista and vertical for tourism and freight carriage in Indian sub-continent. Tourists, both domestic and global who would like to experience spirituality now have the opportunity to visit destinations like Kashi, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Patna Sahib and those who want to explore the natural diversity will cover destinations like Sundarbans and Kaziranga. Through this route tourists have an immersive expedition while exploring the art, culture, history, and spirituality of both India and Bangladesh.
Shri Sarbanda Sonowal congratulated everyone who has contributed in the success of the world’s longest river cruise journey by MV Ganga Vilas’s and encouraged all other private sector operators to identify the river cruise circuits of their choice on various waterways and to enter this nascent sector and be a part of river cruise tourism ecosystem in the country for the wider prosperity of the country specially North Eastern Region. He appeal to all entrepreneurs and trade leaders to work together for reaping benefit from waterways.
The seamless movement of MV Ganga Vilas has established the viability of seamless movement of vessels between Ganga Valley and Brahmaputra Valley; i.e., from Varanasi to Dibrugarh via Kolkata using the IBPR. For the Northeast India, the major highlight of MV Ganga Vilas’s successful voyage is the opportunity to use the inland waterways to reach the sea ports and access to the world of international trade routes.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Tourism Shripad Yesso Naik, said, “The success of MV Ganga Vilas in completing world longest river cruise establish the commitment of the Modi government to renew possibilities for holistic development of the country. The potential of river cruise tourism has been proven huge with the success of Ganga Vilas. The encouraging response from foreign tourists to explore India via river ways is a wonderful avenue for the tourism sector of the country while the peripheral riverine economy of the country is also likely to get a boost.”
Under the Jal Marg Vikas Project of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways (MoPSW), the Narendra Modi government is investing more than ₹6,000 crores to revamp the inland waterways through Arth Ganga and Mahabahu Brahmaputra projects. This is pivotal to the all round development of the Northeast India.
Speaking on the occasion, the Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Shri Shantanu Thakur said, “The focus on the development of east India, particularly the Northeast, has been a major initiative by the Honourable Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi ji. With the success of Ganga Vilas voyage, the entire region – from Varanasi to Kolkata and upto Dibrugarh – is likely to receive a boost in terms of riverine potential. The success of cargo and passenger voyage has opened up a new door of opportunity for the trading community of the region. The affordable, efficient and environment friendly inland water transportation is going to play a crucial role in ensuring a sustainable growth in the region.”
The event was also graced by His Excellency, Honourable Minister of State, Ministry of Shipping (I/C), Government of Bangladesh, Mr Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury; the Union Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Tourism, Shripad Yesso Naik; the Union Minister of State for Labour & Employment and Petroleum & Natural Gas; the Union Minister of State for Education and External Affairs, Dr Rajkumar Ranjan; the Union Minister of State for ports, Shipping & Waterways, Shantanu Thakur; the Minister of Tourism, Public Health Engineering (PHE), Skill Development, Employment & Entrepreneurship, Government of Assam, Jayanta Malla Baruah; the MP (Lok Sabha), Arunachal East, Tapir Gao; the MP (Lok Sabha), Lakhimpur, Pradan Baruah among many MLAs and other dignitaries including Sudhansh Pant, Secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways; Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) participated in this historic event today.
Freight movement through ship is cheaper than other means of transport. A goods train can carry 2000 metric tons (MT) in a single run, while a ship can carry 60,000 to 80,000 MT and as such the volume of transportation through ship makes the whole freight cost effective. Carrying such huge volume of coal through ship is helping in feeding many power stations at a time and keep them functional without break and hence it is always cheaper through ship than any other means. The pricing of freight per MT through roadways is Rs. 1.5 and through railways is Rs. 1.25 while through shipping is Rs. 0.6. From 2004 to 2014, the coastal cargo growth was 25% while in the last years the registered growth has been 77% that too in just eight years, and this could become possible because of our PM’s vision and proper implementation of the policies which was then supported by the concerned ministries by putting their best possible efforts.