Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate a Multi-Modal Terminal on River Ganga in Varanasi on Monday. Modi will also receive the first consignment of containers moving on the Ganga from Kolkata to Varanasi on November 12 as India revives its inland waterways for freight movement.
The Multi-Modal Terminal in Varanasi is the first of three Multi-Modal Terminals being constructed on River Ganga. Started in June 2016, the terminal is built on an area of 33.34 hectares and costs Rs 206.84 crore. The total capacity of the terminal is 1.26 MPTA.
A total of three Multi-Modal Terminals and two Inter-modal Terminals are being constructed on the river as part of the central government’s Jal Marg Vikas project. The Rs 5,369-crore project aims to promote inland waterways for cheaper and environment-friendly conveyance, especially for the transportation of cargos. It thus plans to develop the stretch of Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia for navigation of large vessels of up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes by setting up of required systems there.
Being implemented by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the Jal Marg Vikas project is technically supported by World Bank. The total estimated project cost of Rs 5,369.18 crore is also being equally shared between the World Bank and the Government of India.
The project entails construction of three Multi-Modal Terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia, two inter-modal 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 operation, management and further development of the MMTs are proposed to be consigned to an operator on Public-private partnership (PPP) model, whose selection would occur through an international competitive bidding, which is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
The MMT project and proposed freight village in Varanasi are expected to generate 500 direct employment and more than 2000 indirect employment opportunities.
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which include rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks among others.