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Tuesday, Oct 15, 2019

Cargo vessel’s journey from Kolkata to Varanasi heralds mega waterway plan

After inaugurating the inland waterways terminal, which comes under the first phase of the government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project from Varanasi to Haldia, Modi said this was the first time India had been able to harness its waterways for business at such a scale

india Updated: Nov 12, 2018 23:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on at India's first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river during its inaugural function, in Varanasi, Monday, Nov 12, 2018.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi looks on at India's first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river during its inaugural function, in Varanasi, Monday, Nov 12, 2018. (PTI/ PIB)
         

A cargo vessel travelling from Kolkata docked at Varanasi in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday, completing the first such journey through inland waterways since Independence, on a day the Prime Minister inaugurated several infrastructure projects in his Lok Sabha constituency.

Modi inaugurated the country’s first inland waterways terminal – part of a planned multi-modal terminal (MMT) on the Ganga in Varanasi, opened two roads totaling 34 kilometres and launched three sewage infrastructure projects.

The projects were worth about Rs 2,400 crore, according to government data.

After inaugurating the inland waterways terminal, which comes under the first phase of the government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project from Varanasi to Haldia, Modi said this was the first time India had been able to harness its waterways for business at such a scale. “Varanasi and the country are witness to the concept of how next-generation infrastructure can rejuvenate transport methods. It becomes a matter of pride to see projects completed on time,” he said.

At the inauguration ceremony, Modi received a container vessel that set sail on October 30 from Kolkata with food and beverages of PepsiCo India. The consignment comprised 16 containers, which is the equivalent of 16 truckloads.

The newly inaugurated inland waterways terminal is part of the first MMT that will provide rail, road and waterways connectivity, according to the government. The rail and bus terminal at the Varanasi MMT are in the pipeline. The other three planned MMTs in the project are being constructed at Sahibganj, Haldia and Gazipur at a cost of Rs 5,369 crore. The project on the National Waterways-1 is being funded on a 50-50 sharing basis by the government and the World Bank.

The project is intended for the navigation of large vessels weighing 1,500-2,000 tonne. The government says its objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport, especially for cargo. Utilising the country’s waterways could lead to a reduction in transport cost and highway congestion.

“It is a historic day for Kashi and eastern India. Today, Varanasi and the country are witnessing development work that should have been done decades ago,” Modi said.

Maintaining a depth of 2-3 metres for the Ganga to be navigable for larger boats, and setting up safe navigation systems remain key aspects of the project.

“Work is on for ensuring enough draught (the depth of water needed for a boat to be able to float) in River Ganga from its origin in Gangotri to its last point in Gangasagar in West Bengal. During the forthcoming Kumbh Mela, ferries will run between Varanasi and Prayagraj,” Union minister for shipping, water resources, river development and roads and highways Nitin Gadkari said at the inauguration.

He said 268 water cleaning projects worth Rs 1,000 crore were also being undertaken.

Modi also inaugurated two national highway projects, constructed at a cost of Rs 1571.95 crore. The first phase of the 16.55km Varanasi Ring Road has been completed at a cost of Rs 759.36 crore, while the work of four-laning and construction of the 17.25km Babatpur-Varanasi road on NH-56 has cost Rs 812.59 crore , the government said.

He also inaugurated three sewage infrastructure projects worth Rs 425.41 crore for Varanasi and laid the foundation stone of a Sewerage Management Scheme for Ramnagar. The projects will help reduce pollution in the Ganga, the government said

First Published: Nov 12, 2018 23:58 IST

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