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KoPT mulls tunnel under Ganga for smoother cargo movement

Kolkata: Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) is mulling the idea of constructing a tunnel underneath river Ganges to facilitate hassle-free cargo movement from Kolkata to Howrah and vice-versa.

The movement of cargo through the congested road space in the city is time consuming and restrictions on the movement of heavy vehicles at many places during the day aggravate the problem.

"An underground tunnel underneath river Ganges is technically feasible with the Metro authorities already coming up with a tunnel. The volume of cargo handled by KoPT is increasing by leaps and bounds and so the time has come to explore the possibility of a tunnel underneath the river for smooth and faster movement of cargo in trucks," said Vinit Kumar, chairman of KoPT.

Kumar had visited Belgium a few months ago and found that a tunnel underneath the river Schelede has been proving to be very effective for cargo movement.

According to Kumar, a bridge needs to be constructed at a reasonable height over the river, so that if does not act as barrier in movement of large ships. The larger the height of the bridge, the longer the approach road needs to be.

"A bridge similar to that of Vidyasagar Setu without any hindrance to the shipping channel is not only a costly affair but also time consuming. So, a tunnel can be an optimum option," he added.

It may be mentioned that KoPT had handled the highest ever cargo load of 63 million tonnes with 8.3 lakh containers last year and is hopeful of surpassing it by the end of this fiscal.

"Kolkata poses a challenge in terms of evacuation. Roads are saturated and waterways evacuation is almost nil. So, we are seriously working on this aspect," Kumar said.

KoPT is coming up with an 'Extended Gate Project' at Balagarh in Hooghly district, to facilitate faster and smoother movement of cargo, bound for the North. The DPR for the project is getting finalised.

It is being designed as an extended terminal-cum-industrial unit and it will be a win-win situation for both industry and the port.

"The proposed extended terminal gateway can serve as a storing hub for cargo from Haldia and Kolkata docks for their onward journey via waterways or by road. This will also reduce the turnaround time due to vehicular movement restrictions in city and also decongest the city," a senior KoPT official said.

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