A Bill to amend the Indian Vessels Act, 1917, with the purpose of settling rules of sailing on the rivers that have been declared national waterways, is likely to be placed in the next session of Parliament. The government has notified 111 national inland waterways across the country and statutory provisions will have to be made to govern these waterways, Prabir Pandey, vice-chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), told FE on the sidelines of an event.
The restructured draft amendment Bill has already got the go-ahead from the Cabinet and the parliamentary standing committee on transport and shipping. “We hope Parliament will pass the Bill in next session,” Pandey said.
Although the Bill is meant to bring amendments to the Indian Vessels Act, 1917, actually the entire Act has been restructured.
IWAI would standardise practices on the river with a view that normal flow of water is not changed while constructing jetties and creating other infrastructure on rivers. “We are standardising designs of vessels which would sail with cargo,” Pandey said. While IWAI has roped in DST of Germany to design vessels, designs would be open to all barge and vessel manufacturers for adoption, he added. IWAI is creating an intellectual property for 14 vessels on the Ganges, the first of its kind in India, and would take the intellectual property right from DST. The vessel designs would be put up on the website for any manufacturer to have access free of cost. DST was engaged through an international bidding process and was asked to design 14 vessels. Vessels have been designed to carry as much as 20,000 tonne.
IWAI would develop 45-metre wide channels so that 110-metre long and 12-metre wide vessels could easily sail through. There would be seven-year assured depth dredging contract providing a depth guarantee of at least 3 metre. While dredging between Haldia and Farakka would cost Rs 100 crore for seven years, dredging between Farakka and Barh and between Barh and Varanasi would cost Rs 400 crore and Rs 350 crore, respectively, for the same period.
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“We have already received designs for the first five vessels. An expert committee of top architects from IIT-Kharagpur and the Indian Institute of Shipping are examining them. Once approved, IWAI would do a model testing on National Waterways-1 before putting it on the website for manufacturers,” Pandey said.
IWAI held conferences of stakeholders before the designs were finalised and took random suggestions through meetings in Kolkata, Mumbai and Delhi. By August, designs would be on the website. In another 9-12 months, vessels will physically arrive. Vessels would be simultaneously launched with multi-modal terminals becoming operational by the first quarter of 2019 on NW-1.
There would be three multi-modal terminals in Haldia, Sahebgunj and Varanasi and two inter-modal terminals at Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh and Kalughat in Bihar.