Major step to enhance India’s shipping industry! Maersk Line, the world’s largest container shipping company recently moved as many as 16 containers on the river Ganga (National Waterway-1) from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Kolkata in West Bengal. The announcement was made by the Ministry of Shipping recently. Interestingly, according to the ministry, the company, which moves 12 million containers annually across the globe, is on board India’s inland waterways for the first time. Earlier, similar movements were carried out by companies like PepsiCo, IFFCO Fertilizers, Emami Agrotech, Dabur India. Now that Maersk Line is on board, the cargo from the hinterland will directly move through the Bay of Bengal to and from Bangladesh as well as rest of the world.
The country’s first riverine multimodal terminal on river Ganga was dedicated to the nation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at Varanasi on November 12, 2018. PM Modi also received the country’s first container cargo on the same day that travelled on river Ganga from Kolkata to Varanasi. According to the ministry, both the events marked watershed moments in the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) in the country as well as broke grounds for a spurt in business activities on National Waterway-1, river Ganga.
The Container cargo transport includes several advantages like reduction in handling cost, reduction in reduces pilferages and damage, easier modal shift. In addition to these features, it also allows cargo owners to reduce their carbon footprints.
Under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), the government is developing National Waterway-1 from Haldia to Varanasi, covering a distance of 1390 km with technical as well as financial assistance of the World Bank at a cost of around Rs 5369 crore. The ministry claimed that the project would allow commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 DWT.
A consignment of Maruti cars was flagged off by Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari from Varanasi to Haldia in August 2016. Since then, pilot movements on river Ganga are being carried out on various stretches. So far, over 15 of them have already been completed successfully, including integrated movements through National Waterway-1, Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and National Waterway-2 (river Brahmaputra), the ministry stated.