Inland waterways to ferry passengers: Gadkari

New Delhi, Aug 12 (IANS) Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Friday flagged off two cargo vessels from Varanasi to Haldia through inland waterways and said these inland water channels will be used to ferry passengers and for joyrides too.

The government initiative in this regard will reduce road traffic congestion and also be cost effective, he said while speaking at the foundation stone laying ceremony of the multi–modal terminal in the Uttar Pradesh city.

“Inland waterways will also be used for transporting passengers and entertainment and the government is extending this facility on 111 waterways,” said Gadkari

The Varanasi-Haldia route will incorporate Allahabad and Kanpur too in future, Gadkari said. The cargo sent contains cars of Maruti Suzuki and construction material,

To make rivers navigable throughout the year, the minister said Digital Global Positioning System will be installed and dredging undertaken.

According to Gadkari, the inland waterways transport system will also ensure jobs to lakhs of people in Uttar Pradesh and enable 11 power stations in the state to get timely supply of coal.

A statement from the Shipping Ministry said that National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is being developed under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore.

“The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT tonnage from Varanasi to Haldia,” said the statement.

NW-1 is a waterway of national significance passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, potentially serving the major cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad and their industrial hinterlands including several industries located along the Ganga basin.

“The rail and road corridors of this region are already saturated. Hence, the development of NW-1 will result in a viable economical, efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport and huge quantities of cargo can be transported thereby helping in economic development of this region,” the statement quoted Gadkari as saying.

The cargo handling capacity of the terminal after the construction of Phase I of the multi-modal terminal at Varanasi is estimated to be 1.2 million metric tonnes per annum (MTPA).

“The cargo that will be handled at the Terminal includes stone chips, cement, food grains, fertilisers, sugar etc. The Terminal will have facilities including berthing space for two vessels simultaneously, storage area, transit shed, parking areas, among others. The Terminal will also have a floating jetty for passenger transportation,” said Gadkari.

–IANS

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