For the first time in India’s history, a container vessel has been used for logistics transportation on the National Waterways-1 along the River Ganga. National Waterways-1, an inland waterway from Haldia to Allahabad has been developed to boost India’s interstate cargo transportation.
According to the reports, a container cargo belonging to PepsiCo (India) is being transported from Kolkata to Varanasi. The vessel containing the cargo was flagged off by Union Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna along with Chairman of IWAI, Pravir Pandey.
Gopal Krishna said that the development of National Waterways-1 will enable easier and efficient cargo movement to the east and northeastern states of the country. Gopal Krishna further added that development of multi-modal hubs within the time duration of three years will lead to a considerable increase in the volume of cargo movement through waterways and said that it will also lead to the development of cruise tourism in the country by next year.
The container vessel named MV Rabindranath Tagore is carrying about 16 containers, which is equal to 16 truckloads of food and snacks on Indian roads, will be transported through the Ganga river. The container vessel will take another 9 to 10 days to reach Varanasi and will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant, situated near Allahabad.
The Union government has officially notified 111 waterways in the country for the development of Inland water transportation as per The National Waterways Act, 2016. The Union government had initially recognised 5 inland waterways and had declared it as part of the National Waterways project. Later in 2016, the Centre decided to further develop additional 106 inland waterways across the country.
The central government is developing the National Waterways-I (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project form Haldia to Varanasi, covering a distance of 1,620km at a cost of around Rs 5,369 crore, with the financial and technical assistance from the World Bank. This project would allow commercial navigation of container vessels with a capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 DWT.
An 891 km National Waterways-2 has been planned along Brahmaputra River from Sadiya to Dhubri. The National Waterways-3 (205km) is being developed on Kollam-Kozhikode stretch of West Coast Canal and Champakara canal and Udyogmandal canal in the state of Kerala.
Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of Canals and the Kaluvelly Tank, Bhadrachalam-Rajahmundry stretch of river Godavari and Wazirabad-Vijayawada stretch of river Krishna (1078 km) has been designated as National Waterway-4. Talcher-Dhamra stretch of Rivers, Geonkhali-Charbatia stretch of East Coast Canal, Charbatia-Dhamra stretch of Matai river and Mahanadi Delta Rivers (588 Km) declared as National Waterway in 2008 in the states of West Bengal and Orissa.