The work for the National Waterway 1 (NW-1) from Haldia to Varanasi stretch of Ganga has been initiated and a work order of around Rs 2,000 crore has been executed from an estimated total project cost of Rs 5,369 crore.
NW-1 is being developed under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, the first phase of which will cover a 1,620 km stretch from the dock city of Haldia to Varanasi. It will go through four states, namely Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.
The project includes development of fairway, multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia, and Sahibganj, strengthening of the river navigation system, conservancy works, modern river information system and digital global positioning system.
It will also include construction of a state-of-the-art navigation lock at Farakka. The project is expected to facilitate navigation of commercial vessels with capacities between 1,500-2,000 tonne.
The World Bank will provide financial assistance for the project and will provide 50 per cent of the total funds. The first instalment of the funds has already been dispersed.
The remaining 50 per cent will be sent by the Central government, with assistance from private sector through the Public Private Partnership model. In Bengal, the proposed multi-modal terminal at Haldia on NW 1 is expected to become a hub for transportation of cargo to the North-East and other parts of state.
The terminal has already received a commitment of 5.92 million metric tonne per annum of cargo volume by the year 2018 from different industries.
In Uttar Pradesh, the construction of Varanasi (Ramnagar) multi-modal terminal will take place at an estimated project cost of Rs 170 crore.
On August 12 this year, Union Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari had flagged off the trial run of two cargo vessels from Varanasi, paving the way for regular movements of vessels on the NW-1 stretch. The possibility of Liquefied Natural Gas fuel bunkering at the proposed terminal is also being explored.
Meanwhile, Bihar will get state-of-the-art terminals at Kalughat and Gaighat, along with ferry service, dredging service and roll-on/roll-off service.
For Jharkhand, the project would provide transportation route for around 80 billion tonne of coal
of all categories.
Meanwhile, the Centre’s focus on developing an all-weather inland waterway transport option along the 1,620 km stretch of Ganga from Varanasi to Haldia has attracted the attention of many corporate houses.
Maruti Suzuki India recently approached the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the nodal agency for Jal Marg Vikas project, to explore the opportunity to access eastern markets through this route. “It is a dream project. I have told the officers to work hard,” said Pravir Pandey, vice-chairman, IWAI.