GUWAHATI : Chief Minister Dr. Himanta Biswa Sarma on Friday attended the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MoU) for the development of a project titled "Riverine Religious Tourism Circuit in Brahmaputra, Guwahati" between Assam Tourism Development Corporation (ATDC), Directorate of Inland Water Transport of Assam, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the Sagarmala Development Company Limited. With an initial project cost of ?40 crore, the "Riverine Religious Tourism Circuit" is aimed at connecting through waterways seven prominent religious places – the Maa Kamakhya Temple, Pandunath Temple, Ashwaklanta Temple, Doul Govinda Temple, Umananda Temple, Chakreswar Temple and Auniati Satra – spread along the north and south bank of river Brahmaputra in Guwahati.
The project is to be undertaken in a single phase and encompass components such as procurement of vessels, construction of jetties and funicular railway trolley system (for visit to Kamakhya Temple), among others. For execution of the project, a special purpose vehicle, with 45% equity stake with ATDC and the remaining 55% with IWAI and Sagarmala Development Company Limited, shall be established. Addressing the gathering for the ceremony held at the premises of the Assam Administrative Staff College, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma the riverine tourism circuit development project would provide a huge boost towards tapping the untapped tourism potential of the State in general and that of the city in particular. Stating that tourists to Guwahati are usually clueless about places to visit (with exception being the Maa Kamakhya Temple), Dr. Sarma said the riverine tourism circuit would help the visitors to the city include as many as seven religious shrines of historical significance in their itinerary.
Stating that riverine tourism offers a one-of-the-kind experience, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma exuded confidence the riverine tourism circuit project would prove helpful in projecting Guwahati as a top tourism destination in the country.Referring to the tourism sector as a major provider of employment and self- employment opportunities, Chief Minister Dr. Sarma added that the government of Assam has been taking numerous steps aimed at ensuring further growth and rise of the tourism industry. Under the current dispensation at the Centre, inland waterways transportation in the Northeast has received a never-before-seen thrust, the Chief Minister said, adding the Sittwe Port project in Myanmar would play a decisive role in realizing the envisaged fruits of Act East Policy of the Government of India. Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal, Assam Minister of Tourism Jayanta Mallabaruah, Assam Minister of Transport Parimal Shuklabadya, Chairman of ATDC Rituparna Barua, Chairman of IWAI Sanjay Bandopadhyaya were also present.