Goods transport set to see a major shift to inland waterways

Inland waterways in India is ready to get a spin as a big shift in goods load from highways and railway is expected in the upcoming days. The Union Budget talks expressively on laying emphasis on pushing Ganga waterway project ahead. Having said this, 72 Million Tons of cargo has already been moved across various National Waterways in the country this year.

“We need to develop our inland waterways to shift a significant portion of inland cargo movement from road and rail. This government envisions using the rivers for cargo transportation, which will also help to decongest roads and railways.”

Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said in her budget speech.

“As part of the Jal Marg Vikas Project for enhancing the navigational capacity of Ganga, a multimodal terminal at Varanasi has become functional in November 2018 and two more such terminals at Sahibganj and Haldia and a navigational lock at Farakka would be completed in 2019-20. The movement of cargo volume on Ganga is estimated to increase by nearly four times in the next four years. This will make the movement of freight, passenger cheaper and reduce our import bill,” the finance minister added.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was awarded the contract for the first multimodal terminal at Haldia. The facility will give a huge boost to businesses along this riverine route as it will have the interface of three modes of transportation – railways, shipping and roadways. The IWAI has signed a deal with a major infrastructure firm to construct an INR 517 crore state-of-the-art multimodal terminal at Haldia.

Praveer Pandey, Chairman of Inland Waterways Authority of India told Logistics Insider, “The objective of the Jal Marg Vikas Project is the capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1 (river Ganga, from Varanasi to Haldia) to enable movement of cargo vessels of 2000 ton capacity. This includes the development of multimodal terminals with mechanised equipment handling facilities, adequate depth, River Information Stations, day and night navigation facilities etc.”

“These works have already commenced on ground and are in advanced stages. Already, the cargo movement on NW-1 has grown rapidly and crossed 7 million tonnes per annum threshold from about 4 million tonnes per annum two years ago,” he added.

The IWAI has claimed that Haldia-Allahabad National Waterway-I, expected to complete by 2022, will generate 50,000 direct and indirect employment opportunities in the state.

The state-of-the-art multimodal terminal at Haldia will have a cargo handling capacity will be 3.18 million tons per annum. The terminal will be used to transport coal, fly ash, chemicals, petroleum and gas, construction materials, fertilizers and edible items.

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