PM Narendra Modi to inaugurate Multi-Modal Terminal in Varanasi along National Waterway-1 on the Ganga

The MMTs are being developed as a part of the government’s Jal Marg Vikas project (JMVP) that intends to develop the stretch between Varanasi to Haldia (West Bengal) for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1500-2000 tonnes.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the newly developed Multi-Modal Terminal (MMT) on River Ganga in Varanasi on November 12. In a bid to develop India’s inland waterway sector, the Union government had decided to build Multi-Modal Terminals being along National Waterway-1 (NW) on the river Ganga.

According to the reports, the first terminal is developed at Varanasi and two other Multi-Modal Terminal are also being constructed on NW-1 at Sahibganj and Haldia. The MMTs are being developed as a part of the government’s Jal Marg Vikas project (JMVP) that intends to develop the stretch between Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1500-2000 tonnes. The objective behind the scheme is to promote inland waterways, primarily for cargo movement.

Began in June 2016, the MMT project along the National Waterway-1 on River Ganga was designed to hold the capacity of 1.26 MPTA. The Varanasi terminal project has a jetty of 200m length and 42m width and spreads across 33.34 hectares of land along with mobile harbour cranes, internal roads, stone pitching works, bank protection and other infrastructure needed for required operations.

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The World Bank has been supporting the JMVP with technical assistance and investment support of Rs. 5,369 crores. The Multi-Model Terminal project in Varanasi is built at a cost of Rs 206 crores. The MMT project in Varanasi is expected to produce 500 direct employment and will create additional 2000 indirect employment opportunities in the surrounding areas of the project.

Recently, for the first time in India’s history, a container vessel was used for logistics transportation on the National Waterways-1 along the River Ganga. A container cargo belonging to PepsiCo (India) transported 16 containers of food and beverages from Kolkata to Varanasi.

India has a vast network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14,500 km, out of which about 5,200 km of the river and 4,000 km of canals can be used by mechanized crafts.

Freight transportation by waterways is highly under-utilized in India compared to other large countries and geographic areas like the United States, China and the European Union. The trade done along the inland waterways in India is just 3.5% of the total trade as against 47% in China, 40% in Europe and 35% in neighbouring Bangladesh. The inland Cargo transportation in the country is restricted to few waterways in Goa, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala.

The Union government decided to develop inland waterways as it is much fuel-efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly. Since inland waterways were neglected by the previous governments the central government has evolved a policy for the integrated development of inland waterways and passed the National Waterways Act of 2016, which declared additional 106 Waterways as National Waterways (NW) through addition to the existing five National Waterways.

Water transport is one of the cheapest and environment-friendly modes of transport. It also takes lesser time to transport cargo over water, as the chances of congestion and accidents on waterways are minimal. Addition to this, investment in developing inland waterways helps in economic growth of the country, as it helps in generating millions of jobs.

India can reap huge benefits from developing inland waterways, as it enhances domestic cargo transportation as well as for cruise, tourism and passenger traffic. With public-private partnership (PPP) led investments in activities like dredging, construction, operation and maintenance of barges, terminals, storage facilities, and navigation, the inland waterways can boost both intrastate and interstate trade which can augment India’s global maritime trade.

National waterways provide a logistically efficient, cost-effective and environment-friendly mode of transport, whose development as an additional mode will bring down the load-stress and traffic from over-congested roads and railways.

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