While addressing the media at a hotel, Verma said that IWAI will start three different projects in the state to promote business through waterways and for the overall development of water transportation sector. IWAI is developing Haldia as a multi-modal terminal for which around Rs 500 crore would be spent by the Centre in the first phase.
The construction work will begin in October or November and the project is expected to be completed within March 2019. It was learnt that the state government has already handed over around 61 acre of land to the Centre for this project.
Verma also said that as a part of modernisation work of Farakka barrage, a navigational lock gate would be constructed at the feeder canal of the barrage at an estimated cost of Rs 380 crore. The tendering process for the project has already been initiated. The Centre is developing National Waterway-1 (NW-1) under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,200 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with the capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT Tonnage. Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch.
Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways, Nitin Gadkari on August 12 flagged off the trial run of two cargo vessels from Varanasi to Haldia. The two vessels are MV V V Giri with a capacity of 300 tons and MV Joy Basudev of 1,400 tons containing newly assembled cars of a particular company and the construction material had left from Varanasi on last Friday. According to the senior officer of IWAI, the transportation cost of cars would be a few times cheaper than the road transportation charges.
Phase I of the project also includes development of fairway, Multi-Modal Terminals at Varanasi, Haldia, and Sahibganj, strengthening of open river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking, construction of a new state of the art navigational lock at Farakka etc.
Dredging would be conducted in the initial phase at a stretch of around 146 km between Farakka and Bhagalpur to increase the navigability of the river Ganga for the smooth running of the barges which would be carrying tons of cargo. For ferrying cargo through waterways between Varanasi and Haldia around 11 million cusec meter of dredging is required. The work would be done in phases. IWAI would engage a farm to increase navigability for the vessels.
Around 40 new ferry services would be introduced among which West Bengal would have nearly 10 such services including that of Haldia, Kolkata, Budge Budge and Dakshineswar, according to a senior official of the IWAI.