Developed at a cost of Rs 5,369 crore, India’s National Waterways started the country’s first inland container movement.
On October 30, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, Nitin Gadkari started India’s first inland waterway cargo container movement from Kolkata to Varanasi on river Ganga (National Waterway-1).
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) marked the first container movement by shipping 16 containers of food and snacks by PepsiCo India - equivalent to 16 truckloads. This shipment is being transported by the vessel MV RN Tagore, and the journey will be covered in about 10 days. After depositing PepsiCo’s shipment, the vessel will return with IFFCO’s fertilisers from the Phulpur plant of Prayagraj.
It was flagged off in the presence of Shri Gopal Krishna, Secretary (Shipping) of Government of India, along with Shri Pravir Pandey, Chairman of IWAI, and other senior Government officials and PepsiCo representatives.
At present, India’s freight movement through inland waterways is only 0.5 percent. The total logistics costs of the country stand at 18 percent of India’s current GDP, reports The World Bank.
In just one litre of fuel, 105 tonnes of cargo could be moved through inland waterways against only 24 tonnes by road. Economically, waterways cost merely Rs. 1.19 per km against Rs 2.28 per km on the highway.
The government is developing NW-1 under the banner of Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). The 1,390 Km long route from Haldia in West Bengal to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh costs Rs 5,369 crore, which is still being built with financial and technical assistance from the World Bank.
Upon its success, this project would enable commercial movement of vessels with capacities of 1,500-2,000 DWT.
In August 2016, Shri Nitin Gadkari had flagged off a consignment of Maruti cars from Varanasi to Haldia. Since then, pilot movements have taken place on more than 15 routes, including the integrated movement of Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and NW-2 (Brahmaputra).