World Bank to lend $375 mn for India's first National Waterways
The Dollar Business Bureau
Inida's first waterways project received a financial backing of $375 million from international lender World Bank. The project is meant to create inland waterway for transportation between Haldia and Varanasi, on the 1,360-km stretch of the Ganges river.
The loan sanctioned by World Bank covers 45% cost of the project, being undertaken under the Jal Marg Vikas scheme by the Shipping Ministry. The proposed project will facilitate navigation of commercial vessels with a capacity of 1,500-2,000 deadweight tonnage (DWT).
Serving the industries on the banks of river Ganga, the new waterway will pass through four states namely Bihar, West Bengal, Jharkhand, and Uttar Pradesh. The industrial cities of Ghazipur, Bhagalpur, Kolkata, Howrah, Patna, Haldia, Allahabad and Varanasi will immensely benefit from this initiative.
The development of National Waterway 1 (NW1) will also provide a good alternative to the saturated and environmentally degrading option of rail transport.
Three terminals supporting multiple modes of transport will be developed in each of the cities of Sahibganj, Haldia, and Varanasi. Aditionally, Ghazipur and Kalughat will be home to inter-modal terminals. Five Ro-Ro(Roll on-Roll off) terminals are also in the plan.
The vessel repair and ferry business will also flourish in the area to supplement the activities supported by NW1. India's first River Information Service (RIS) System, to be administered by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), is in the pipeline.
Planned for one of India's heavily populated regions, the national waterway will support trade in India's mineral and resource rich areas along the river of Ganga. While India has navigable inland waterways of 14,500 km in the form of both rivers and canals, these waters are hardly used for freight transport. This is India's first step towards tapping the potential of a huge network of rivers.
World Bank states that only 5 million tonnes of trade occurs via waterways in this region, while the generation of freight averages about 370 million tonnes annually.