August 18, 2007 12:07:17 am
The Parliamentary Standing Committee has shown the green signal to two new national waterways in West Bengal-Orissa and Andhra Pradesh-Tamil Nadu even as it called for an integrated transport policy and an institutional framework for inland water transport.
One of them is the 1095-km long Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of canals that consist of Kakinada canal, Eluru canal, Commamur canal, Buckingham canal and Kaluvelly tank, Bhadrchalam-Rajamundry stretch of Godavari river and Wazirabad-Vijaywada stretch on Krishna river with 907-km falling in Andhra Pradesh, 186-km in Tamil Nadu and 2-km in Puducherry. As per estimates drawn by consultants M/s RITES, the project will cost Rs 542 crore as per 2002 prices and facilitate movement of 100 tonne vessels in the irrigation canal portion and 350 tonne in the rivers and Buckingham canal portion. It will provide an alternative mode of transport for movement of commodities between the ports of Chennai, Ennore, Kakinada and various hinterland cities like Wazirabad, Vijaywada, Rajahmundry, Polavaram, Eluru, Nellore, Ongole and Puducherry.
The other waterway—Talcher-Dhamra stretch of the Brahmni-Kharsua-Dhamra Rivers, Goenkhali-Charbatia stretch of the East Coast canal, Charbatia-Dhamra stretch of Matai River and Mahandai delta rivers between Mangalgadi and Paradip is also up for the national waterway status. Around 18.07 million tonnes of inland water transport traffic is expected to be carried out on the proposed waterway after its full development in eight years time. The traffic is expected to be handled at four terminals—Talcher, Nasirabd, Balasore and Rajnagar and the major cargoes are coal, fertiliser, cement, iron ore, agricultural and industrial products.
The Standing Committee, however, has recommended the Government to prepare the road map for an integrated transport policy to include inland water transport, coastal shipping, civil aviation, road transport & highways for enabling better inter-connectivity amongst multiple modes of transport. The Committee has also called for provision of an institutional framework for development of IWT sector so as to increase capacity of IWT agencies, increased cost recovery and commercialisation of IWT industries.
In case of the West Bengal-Orissa waterway, the Committee has suggested that another terminal be developed at Geonkhali in West Bengal to enable better traffic handling. It was also noted by the panel that there’s need to develop an action plan to address the growing demand of repair and service facilities of IWT vessels. In case of the Kakinada-Puducherry waterway, the panel has recommended that the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu resolve their reservations concerning state interests before the bill is proceeded further for being passed by both Houses of Parliament.