Shortly after a report that revealed the shortcomings of Gati Shakti Masterplan’s critical projects, a new report highlighting the shortcomings in development and management of inland waterways has been published by the Shyama Prasad Mookerji Port Authority. It analyses the inland waterway route between West Bengal and Assam. The Kolkata Port has urged the Inland Waterways Authority of India to address the impediments on the Haldia-Guwahati inland waterways route and streamline the integration the ports’ logistics chain with inland waterways movement.
The report took into sight the navigational challenges faced during the recent and India’s first cargo transfer using inland waterways between Haldia and Guwahati by Tata Steel Ltd. It has highlighted some major impediments like
- Shallowness of river channel
- Lack of key channel markings
- Lack of accompanying dredger during the journey, and
- Unavailability of uniform depth of 2.5 to 3 meters along the entire route, among others.
The said maiden voyage took the critical Bangladesh Protocol Route. While cargo loading was overseen by the SPMP Authority at the Haldia Port, the entire journey on water via Bangladesh and cargo handling at Pandu Port (Guwahati) was handled by the Inland Waterways Authority of India, which is a statutory regulatory authority under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways.
Although the receiver expressed satisfaction regarding the condition of cargo received at Pandu, the exporter Tata Steel Ltd. conveyed their displeasure due to the extensive delay. The voyage (between Haldia and Pandu) which was envisaged to be covered within maximum 14 days, consumed 26 days. Further, due to several incidents of grounding, there were chances of damage to the cargo.” said the SPMP Authority report.
The entire return journey, which was supposed to take 23 days actually took 62 days to complete (to and fro) due to multiple challenges out of which, a major one was the lack of adequate draft at certain stretches of the route. The report also suggested that if all the challenges faced were to be addressed and resolved, the entire journey would take 9-10 days, which is in start contrast to the time the journey actually took. It was also advised to install night time navigational facilities on the route which will not only reduce the overall time of transporting cargo but also make efficient use of multimodal transportation and cut down logistics costs considerably.