Indian Army planning to deploy hovercraft on Brahmaputra to strengthen counter-terrorist ops


Senior Member
Mar 24, 2013
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Indian Army planning to deploy hovercraft on Brahmaputra to strengthen ability to conduct counter-terrorist ops

Seeking to strengthen troops’ ability to conduct counter-terrorist operations along the Brahmaputra in the Northeast, the Indian Army is planning to deploy hovercraft on the river to carry out strikes in marshy areas and shallow waters.

The initiative is being taken by the army’s eastern command in Assam, where terrorist groups such as National Democratic Front of Bodoland (NDFB) have been getting active and have traditionally had their camps in marshy lands and high grass areas along the river.

“We are in the process of deploying hovercraft on the Brahmaputra as part of Inland Water Transport (IWT) units, which were on the verge of disbandment, and will now be provided with new equipments and assets to strengthen them,” an army officer told MAIL TODAY.

The army’s IWT units have been in existence since the British era and were used extensively in operations in Burma and Bangladesh during WW2.

Sources said the Brahmaputra passes through the heart of Assam and other Northeastern states and in the past, terrorists from various outfits such as ULFA and NDFB used islands on the river as bases. “The hovercraft can also be used for area domination and prevent terrorists from setting up base in areas around the river,” an official said.

The hovercraft, also known as air cushion vehicles, can swiftly chase terrorists out of their hideouts that operate under the cover of high grass found abundantly along the river, sources said.

Of the 14,500-km of navigable waterways in India, a major chunk of navigable stretches is along the Brahmaputra, Ganga-Hooghly and Barak rivers in the eastern part of the country. These are manned by the army command based out of Fort Williams.


With the hovercraft, the eastern command is also looking to help out soldiers who have to reach their deployment areas quickly. “IWT units ferried more than one lakh soldiers in that area,” an official said. The availability of such vessels will also help forces carry out disaster relief operations in the Northeast where floods and landslides are common.

The army has also deployed IWT units in Ladakh where they dominate the Pangong Tso Lake with its new hydrojet boats to meet the aggressive People’s Liberation Army patrols, officials said.

Sources said the army may also consider deploying swift boats in the Northern command where terrorists in J&K have used lakes such as Watlab and Manasbal to act against forces.


Senior Member
Nov 19, 2017
Ministry of Shipping
28-December, 2017 11:57 IST
Opening new world for business & employment opportunities in North-East through inland waterways

Shri Nitin Gadkari to flag off regular cargo transportation through NW 2 on River Brahmaputra tomorrow
Shri Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Shipping, Road Transport & Highways, and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation will flag off the first movement of cement cargo through National Waterway (NW) 2 on River Brahmaputra in Assam tomorrow, under the Shipping Ministry’s flagship programme Sagarmala. He will also lay the foundation stone for bank protection work of Majuli Island tomorrow. Assam Chief minister Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, will also be present on the occasion.

Marking a new milestone towards Government of India’s constant endeavors to promote economically more viable and environment friendly modes of transport in the country, two barges of 200 metric ton capacity each, will carry 400 tonnes of cement from the Inland Waterways Authority of India’s Pandu Port to Dhubri covering a distance of 255 kilometers. With this, IWAI will be initiating regular cargo movement through inland waterways under the Sagarmala programme.

Transportation of cargo through NW 2 from Pandu to Dhubri will help save 150,000 tonne km of road transportation per trip and 300 km of road travel while reducing the logistics costs. Notably, where one Horse Power can move 150 kg on road and 500 kg on rail, it can move 4000 kg on waterways. Further, while one litre fuel can move 24 ton per km on road and 85 ton per km on rails, the same amount of fuel can move 105 ton per km on waterways. In addition, the infrastructural development for Inland Water Transport (IWT) requires minimal land as compared to road and rail.

IWAI will charge only Rs 318 per ton as waterway transportation charges from Pandu to Dhubri/Hatsingimari to enthuse entrepreneurs and logistic operators to shift to the cost effective and eco-friendly mode of transportation that also reduces congestion on road. IWAI has been working closely with major cement firms like Dalmia, Star and Amrit and appreciates interest shown by them in cargo movement through waterways. Efforts are on to get other cargo owners to shift their transportation to waterways as this can be a key enabler for reduction of logistics cost and open up more business & employment opportunities.

The Ministry of Shipping has been making focused efforts to:

· Connect north east region to Kolkata, Haldia, Mongla and Chittagong ports

· Provide efficient logistics in North |East region

· Set up Roll on- Roll off services across River banks

· Facilitate movement for armed forces

Development at Brahmaputra River (NW2) for commercial navigation

Pandu, due to its geographical location, is one of the key terminals on NW2. Both high & low level RCC jetties have been constructed for round the year loading and unloading of cargo and railway BG siding. The port has been developed as a multi-modal modern Inland Water Transport Terminal, equipped with cargo handling facilities, transit sheds, and appropriate open space facilities/hard stands.

Regular works of maintenance of a navigable fairway of 45 meter width and 2.5 meter least available depth (LAD) from Bangladesh Border to Neamati (629km), 2.0m LAD from Neamati to Dibrugarh (139km) and 1.5 meter LAD from Dibrugarh to Sadiya (123km)/Oriumghat (92km) have been carried out during 2016-17, with the help of river conservancy work and dredging with 3 departmental dredgers. The entire channel on NW 2 has been marked with day navigation marks. Night navigational facilities comprising of solar operated lights on beacon have been provided and maintained between Bangladesh Border and Silghat (440km), which is the last Port of Call on the Protocol route connecting Assam with Kolkata/ Haldia through Bangladesh.

Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) stations have been provided at four locations viz. Dhubri, Jogighopa, Biswanthghat and Dibrugarh for safe navigation of vessels with electronic charts. Floating terminal facilities have been provided at 12 important identified locations viz. Hatsingimari, Dhubri, Jogighopa, Pandu, Tezpur, Silghat, Biswanathghat, Neamati, Sengajan, Bogibil, Dibrugarh/Oakland and Oriumghat which will be increased as per location needs.

There has been a renewed focus in the last three years to promote IWT in North East Region (NER). Of the 106 new National Waterways that were notified in April 2016, under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 19 are in NER. Some of these are NW-16 (river Barak), NW-95 (river Subansiri), NW-39 (river Ganol), NW-93 (river Simsang), NW-101 (river Tizu and Zungki), NW-31 (Dhansiri), NW-62 (river Lohit), NW-106 (river Umngot), NW-18 (river Beki), among others.

Milestones so far:

· In January 2017, the Hon’ble Union Minister laid foundation stone for development of Lakhipur- Bhanga stretch of River Barak as National Waterway 16.The dredging of river Barak (NW-16) has been commenced in November 2017, which was flagged off from Silcharduring Namami Barakevent .

· The DPR for modernization of the terminals located at Karimganj and Badarpur is underway. In April 2017, a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between India and Bangladesh Government to make Ashuganj-Zakiganj stretch of River Kushiaraand Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretch of River Jamuna navigable by ensuring minimum depth of 2.5 meter by dredging. On completion of the dredging work, Barak valley will be connected to National Waterway-1 and National Waterway-2 through Barak River. Simultaneously, traffic from Barak Valley will be established directly from Kolkata and Haldia ports in India and Mongla and Chittagong in Bangladesh. It is estimated that on completion of works on National Waterway-16, by 2020-21, the movement of 3 million metric tonnes of cargo per annum will be ensured. Similarly, after dredging of Sirajganj-Daikhowa stretch in Bangladesh on Indo Bangla-Protocol route approximately 6 million metric ton of cargo will be transported on National waterway-2.

· IWAI in April 2017 conducted a successful trial of transportation of eight Army trucks in Ro-Ro vessel from Pandu to Dibrugarh covering a distance of 485 KM, which was again repeated in November 2017 by transporting the same number of trucks from Pandu to Tezpur using its Ro-Ro vessel.

· In May 2017, IWAI in association with Department of North East Region (DoNER) organized a Road Show to showcase the potential for cargo and passenger transportation, primarily on River Brahmaputra. The event highlighted the enabling policies and the infrastructure facilities available to facilitate safe handling and transport of cargo on river Brahmaputra (NW-2) and river Barak (NW-16).

· In July 2017, IWAI commenced the regular (Roll-on-Roll off) Ro- Ro service between Dhubri and Hatsingimari by deploying a state of the art Ro-Ro vessel MV Gopinath Bordoloi, which can carry 8 trucks and 100 passengers at a time. So far 36000 passengers and 450 trucks have been moved on this stretch in the last 6 months. This Ro-Ro crossing saves 230 Km of road travel. IWAI proposes to introduce such Ro-Ro services at other places on NW-2.

· In September 2017, Lime stone cargo was moved from Karimganj to Ashuganj in Bangladesh.

· Regular Over-Dimensional-Consignment (ODC)-Transformers of Power Grid Corporation, which cannot be transported by rail and road are taking place in Brahmaputra (NW-2). These ODCs are transported from Haldia &Kolkata to North-East through the Indo- Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route.

· River tourism is another activity which is quite popular on Brahmaputra. Two long cruise vessels MV Mahabahu and MV Charaidew are operating regularly between Saulkuchi (a place downstream of Guwahati) and Majuli carrying foreign and domestic tourists.

· IWAI has already initiated action for procurement of two more Ro- Ro vessels, having carrying capacity of 8 trucks and 100 passengers and other with carrying capacity of 12 trucks and 100 passengers. In addition, IWAI is in process of procuring four more Ro-Ro vessels to be deployed on Brahmaputra.Two tug cum barge combination and two self- propelled vessel, each having 2000 ton cargo hold are also under construction and expected to be delivered by January 2018 and March 2018 respectively. Procurement of 2 self-propelled dredgers has also been initiated.


Ministry of Water Resources
28-December, 2017 16:29 IST
Protection of Majuli Island – Endeavour of Brahmaputra Board

The Union Minister of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Shri Nitin Gadkari will lay the foundation stone for a new scheme for protection of Majuli Island in Assam from flood and erosion of river Brahmaputra, at an estimated cost of Rs. 233.57 crore tomorrow. The scheme has been framed by Brahmaputra Board based on the recommendations of the high level Expert Committee of the Government of India that visits the island at least twice a year to monitor and recommend anti-erosion measures. The major components of the scheme include (a) Bank revetment with geo bags filled with earth / sand for a reach length of 27 km in 14 locations (b) RCC porcupine works in 41 locations (c) Construction of a sluice and (d) Construction of a Pilot channel for a length of 3.50 km. The scheme was sanctioned by Government of India in March, 2017. The funding for the project would be from Ministry of DoNER.

Majuli District with an area of 1245 sq km, includes main the Majuli Island with an area of 522 sq km, a large number of smaller islands some of which are inhabited and the Brahmaputra River upto its south bank touching Jorhat and Sibsagar Districts. The area of the island was 734 sq km in 1914 whereas, the minimum area was recorded to be 502 sq km in 2004. Geomorphologically, the entire Majuli island is a part of the alluvial flood plains of the Brahmaputra river. The Island is formed of soil consisting mainly of silt deposits. The soil is without cohesion and thus, susceptible to erosion. The problem of erosion has been severe after the disastrous earthquake of 1950. As per Survey of India topo-sheets and satellite imagery data, area lost by the Island is 206.7 sqkm from the year 1949 upto the year 2004. Although some measures were taken in the form of embankment and anti-erosion work by Government of Assam, the problem of erosion and flood remained mostly uncontained. The embankments built during the 60s were in poor condition.

Brahmaputra Board was initially requested by Government of Assam in 1999 to take up necessary measures for protection of the Island. Formal ‘No Objection’ of Government of Assam for execution of flood and erosion protection works in Majuli Island was communicated in August 2003. Work was started by Brahmaputra Board in January 2004 in 4 phases. The total expenditure incurred in these 4 phases up to October, 2017 is Rs. 185.88 crore. Major works carried out under these schemes includes raising and strengthening of 96.25Km embankment with breach closure at 24 locations, construction of 5 spurs with Boulder and Geo-bag, construction of noses of land spurs at Sonowal Kachari & Kandulimari, numerous RCC porcupine screens, spurs etc at erosion affected reaches, bank revetment for a length of 4.11 km at 4 locations and 5 numbers of raised Platforms.

Before the protection work was taken up by the Board, cultivation could not be done in many areas of the island such as Malowal-Malapindha during kharif season due to large numbers of breaches in the embankment. People suffered from flooding year after year and land of the island was lost at about 2.5 sq km in a year. Due to raising and strengthening of 96.25 km of existing embankment, the entire area of Majuli Island within the embankment is now secured from floods unless there is breach in embankment. Communication from remote areas has improved as people use these embankments as roads. Due to implementation of the anti-erosion and pro-siltation measures such as RCC porcupine, bank revetment and spurs, the situation of Majuli Island has now reversed in most areas. Erosion in most of the vulnerable locations except for a length of about 10km along Brahmaputra could be contained due to these measures. Judicious laying of porcupine screens encouraged heavy siltation and have brought about favourable changes in the river morphology and regime. Reclamation of land started and area of Majuli Island increased from 502.21 sq km in 2004 to 524.29 sq km in 2016 with net gain of 22.08 sq km as per study on satellite imageries. Thus, not only overall erosion of the Island is arrested, but the trend has been reversed favourably.

It is noteworthy that Brahmaputra is one of the most difficult rivers to tackle as it is very dynamic with morphology changing continuously. Measures adopted elsewhere may not be applicable in this river which is 3rd largest in the world and carries highest silt amongst the rivers of its size. Keeping this in mind,

In appreciation of the positive results of the works carried out by Brahmaputra Board at Majuli, Government of Assam moots to entrust several new works to Brahmaputra Board. These works include protection from erosion of Brahmaputra at Neamatighat area near Jorhat, protection of Mikirgaon area in Morigaon District and protection of 3 locations on the right bank of Brahmaputra between Bogibeel bridge and Majuli Island. The Board is in the process of preparation of the proposals and will finalize the same through the Expert Committee for obtaining approval. Once techno-economically approved, Board will seek a funding agency to execute these works.

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