India's first container vessel movement on the Ganga river (National Waterways-I) began this week! The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) transported the container cargo belonging to the food and beverages giant PepsiCo (India), from Kolkata to Varanasi. The vessel was flagged off by Union Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna along with Chairman of IWAI, Pravir Pandey, carrying the consignment in the presence of PepsiCo representatives. According to Gopal Krishna, the cargo movement to the east and northeastern states of the country will become easier with the new mode of transportation through waterways. Moreover, the development of multi-modal hubs within the time duration of three years will lead to a considerable increase in the volume of cargo movement through waterways. Krishna further said that the Cruise tourism in the country will also improve by next year. The container vessel, named MV Rabindranath Tagore is transporting as many as 16 containers, which is equivalent to 16 truckloads of food and snacks through the Ganga river. The container vessel will reach Varanasi in the next 9 to 10 days. The vessel will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant, which is situated near Allahabad. The central government is developing the National Waterways-I (River Ganga). It is being developed under Jal Marg Vikas Project form Haldia to Varanasi, covering a distance of 1,390 km. It is being done at a cost of around Rs 5,369 crore, with the financial and technical assistance from the World Bank. This project would allow commercial navigation of container vessels with a capacity of 1,500 to 2,000 DWT. According to IWAI officials quoted in the report, the container cargo transport allows for easier modal shift, reduces handling cost, decreases pilferage and damage, besides enabling cargo owners to lessen their carbon footprints.