Varanasi, Nov 12: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday inaugurated the first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga river in Varanasi under a project aimed at promoting inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport.
The project was unveiled as the PM, along with Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, received India's first container vessel that sailed from Kolkata on the inland waterway on October 30, carrying cargo belonging to food and beverage giant PepsiCo India.
"This is a historic day for Varanasi and India. For the first time since Independence, we are using our extensive river network for commerce at this scale. It should have happened decades ago but we have finally made it happen now," PM Modi said, speaking at the launch.
Jal Marg Vikas Project
The multi-modal terminals are being built as part of the central government's Jal Marg Vikas Project that aims to develop the stretch of the river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels weighing up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes.
Promotes inland waterways
The objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport, especially for cargo movement.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project implementing agency.
The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank. It is being built at an estimated cost of Rs. 5,369.18 crore, on a 50:50 sharing basis between the Government of India and the World Bank.
Three multi-modal terminals to come up
The project entails construction of three multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); two intermodal terminals; five roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; integrated vessel repair and maintenance facility, differential global positioning system (DGPS), river information system (RIS), river training and river conservancy works, the release said.
Operation, management and further development of the terminal is proposed to be entrusted to an operator on public-private partnership model and selection of the operator through an international competitive bidding is at an advanced stage and is expected to be completed by December.
The project of multi-modal terminal and proposed freight village in Varanasi are expected to generate 500 direct employment and more than 2,000 indirect employment opportunities.
The prime minister will also receive India's first container vessel that sailed from Kolkata on October 30, carrying cargo belonging to PEPSICO (India) from Kolkata to Varanasi.
Container movement on an inland waterway in India is being done for the first time post-Independence, the release said.