As part of ambitious plan to develop waterways and make the Ganga river navigable, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today laid the foundation stone of a Rs 211-crore multi-modal terminal here. "Multimodal hub here will take the state to growth trajectory. This hub with rail, road and waterways connectivity will change the face of UP," Shipping Minister Gadkari said at a function here. The minister said the phase 1 of the multi-modal terminal would be built at a cost of Rs 211 crore and would be ready by August 2018. The terminal is part of Rs 4,200-crore Jal Marg Vikas project to enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT Tonnage from Varanasi to Haldia. The minister said that after completion of phase 1, the terminal's cargo handling capacity is estimated to be 1.2 million tonnes per annum (MTPA). The cargo that will be handled includes stone chips, cement, food grains, fertilisers, sugar, etc. The terminal will have road and rail connectivity with proposed links on NH-7 and Jeonathpur railway station, respectively. It will have facilities such as berthing space for two vessels simultaneously, storage area, transit shed, parking areas, among others. Announcing to promote seaplanes on the Ganga river, the minister also said that next time he would be coming to Varanasi via seaplane. "We are making efforts to encourage seaplanes. A small nation like Maldives has a fleet of 47 sea planes but India despite vast potential has none," the minister said. "We are also building two more terminals at Gazipur and Kalughat at a cost of Rs 250 crore besides 20 small terminals at an investment of Rs 500 crore. Ro-Ro crossings are planned at five cities including Varanasi, Patna and Kolkata at Rs 100 crore," he said. Seven-star and five-star cruise services are being operationalised in 10 cities, including Varanasi, he said. The contract for construction of phase 1 of the multi-modal terminal at Varanasi has been awarded to AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd at an estimated cost of Rs 170 crore and is likely to be completed by August 2018.