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World’s largest container shipping company Maersk to move 16 containers on River Ganga from Varanasi to Kolkata

Container shipping services have already started on the Varanasi-Kolkata waterway route

In a big boost to country’s inland shipping sector, the world’s largest container shipping company Maersk is all set to move 16 containers of cargo on river Ganga along the National Waterway-1 from Varanasi to Kolkata tomorrow, reports PIB.

Reportedly, Maersk will be moving containers on river Ganga after the successful transportation of cargo from other firms like PepsiCo, Emami Agrotech, IFFCO Fertilizers, Dabur India. With the entry of Maersk, the cargo movement across the hinterland will be much easier as they move directly to and from Bangladesh and the rest of the world through the Bay of Bengal.

Maersk, a Danish business conglomerate, is the largest container ship and supply vessel operator in the world and moves nearly 12 million containers yearly across the globe. The firm is now all set to enter the Indian market to transport cargo across inland waterways for the first time.

On November 12, 2018, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi had dedicated India’s first riverine multimodal terminal on river Ganga across National Waterway-1 at Varanasi to the nation. On the same day, he had also received the country’s first container cargo that travelled on National Waterway-1 from Kolkata to Varanasi. The twin events are considered to be the watershed moments in the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India.

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 World Bank has been funding 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 river and 4,000 km of canals can be used by mechanized crafts. 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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