Cabinet approval to be sought for waterways project by December

With contracts worth Rs 2,000 crores already awarded, the Union Shipping Ministry will now seek Cabinet approval for the Jal Marg Vikas project, under which National Waterways-1 is being implemented.

The Ministry is also planning a maiden issue of infrastructure bonds worth Rs 1,000 crores in two tranches to fund this World Bank-aided project. The cost has ballooned from Rs 4,200 crores at conception in 2013 to Rs 5,369 crores now. It involves developing a 1,620-km navigable waterway between Haldia and Varanasi.

Addressing a press conference here on Friday Inland Waterways Authority of India vice chairman Pravir Pandey said that many car-makers have already approached for using this waterway to transport their vehicles.

“ Hyundai wants to utilise this channel. We have already made a pilot run bringing 30 Maruti cars from Varanasi to Kolkata. While a trailer can carry only six cars we are now trying to design vessels that can carry 300 cars.. enabling a saving of Rs 5000 per car while protecting the environment and decongesting roads”, he said, adding that other automakers have also shown interest.

A German consultancy, DST, will help design these shallow water-high tide vessels . He was talking to the media after a meeting with vessel-owners, in which GRSE, Cochin Shipyards and others participated.

Plans were also afoot to move LNG-fuelled vessels and tankers on this stretch he said, adding that IWAI will procure various types of vessels once they were designed to suit the riverine channel that passes through four states with varying navigability and tide conditions. The entire project is expected to facilitate navigation of commercial vessels with capacity upto 2000 tons. West Bengal is expected to be the transportation hub for North East.

Mr Pandey said while World Bank has sanctioned a loan that would fund 50 per cent of the project cost, efforts were on to raise resources which may then minimise the loan requirement. “Private sector has to to come in and a significant portion of the project would be through PPP.”

He also said that the cost envisages many studies including one for disaster management and one on dolphin management.

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Printable version | Feb 18, 2020 12:18:24 PM |

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