The river cruise from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh, billed as the world’s longest, will be flagged off by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on January 13.
The luxury cruise with foreign tourists will cover around 4,000 km of 27 river systems including Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly, Brahmaputra and West Coast Canal in India in a span of 50 days.
“This will be a unique cruise in the world and a reflection of growing cruise tourism in India. I request people of West Bengal to take the benefit of this,” Modi said while launching multiple projects for West Bengal through video-conferencing on Friday. He also announced that the cruise will start its first voyage on January 13. The cruise will cover 50 major tourist sites, including some heritage sites, the famous Ganga Aarti at Varanasi and sanctuaries such as Kaziranga National Park and the Sundarbans Delta. The cruise will travel 1,100 km in Bangladesh.
India-Bangla protocol route played key role in planning cruise service
A senior official of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the agency responsible for National Waterways (NWs), said the cruise operated by a private player will be a regular feature.
“Because of the increased focus of the government on development and maintenance of inland waterways, we have taken up several projects to increase the depth, set up necessary navigation facilities and jetties for successful operation of both passenger and cargo vessels,” the official said.
Officials said that the development of India-Bangladesh Protocol route has played a key role in planning of the cruise service.
“Our civilisation has come up along the rivers and hence the tourists using river cruises will get a better experience and understand our culture and heritage,” the an IWAI official said.
Recently, shipping and waterways minister Sarbananda Sonowal had said that the development of coastal and river shipping, including cruise services, is one of the top priorities of the government.
The PM said that the Centre has taken up the task of developing 100 national waterways and the target is to see world class cruise operating on these waterways besides movement of cargo.