Waterways get a paddle

Written by Shubhra Tandon | Updated: Jul 23 2014, 08:54am hrs
Development of inland waterways has been a long-standing demand of industry since it is the most cost effective way of transporting goods. Finally, the demand is being heard.

Finance minister Arun Jaitley said in his Budget speech that a project on the river Ganga, called Jal Marg Vikas, between Allahabad and Haldia, will be developed under National Waterways-1 over six years at a cost of R4,200 crore.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has envisaged the development of 4,503 km in three phases on National Waterways 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6. The investment required for this, in the next 11 years, is R18,156 crore along with a private investment of R65,599 crore, according to an IWAI presentation last September.

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Phase-I of the project will develop seven terminals, operational by 2018-2019, leading to savings in transportation cost of R341.9 crore per year. Phase II to be operational by 2021-2022 will see development of 15 terminals, leading to annual transportation cost savings of R538.6 crore. Once the third phase of the National Waterways becomes operational with nine terminals in 2024-2025, the annual savings in transportation cost will be R1,281.9 crore.

By 2031-32, it is projected that the entire National Waterways network will have 31 terminals with a traffic of 332.58 million tonnes passing through 14 states, leading to cumulative savings of R4,482 crore per year.

National Waterway No. 1 from Allahabad to Haldia is 1,620 km in length, serving four statesUttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal42 districts and two ports. National Waterway No. 2 from Dhubri to Sadiya stretching 891 km serves four statesAssam, West Bengal, Arunachal and Meghalayaand 37 districts. National Waterway No. 3 from Kollam to Kottapuram stretching 205 km will serve the state of Kerala and nine districts and one port. National Waterway No. 4 from Kakinada to Puduchery is 1,078 km in length, serves three statesAndhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puduchery20 districts and three ports. National Waterway No. 5 from Goenkhali to Talcher is 588 km in length and serves the state of Odisha and eight districts and two ports. National Waterway No. 6 from Lakhipur to Bhanga is in the process and will be a 121-km stretch, serving three states of Assam, Mizoram and Manipur and 21 districts.

In its role as the authority responsible for development and regulation of inland waterways, IWAI will maintain fairways, navigation channel and navigational aids. A constant water draft of 2 to 2.5 metre would be maintained on all National Waterways (including protocol route) to operate vessel size up to 2000 DWT. All terminals will be connected to the national road network and select rail networks.