The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will launch a newly constructed tug-barge flotilla in Kolkata in line with Central government's efforts to augment the navigation capacity of the country's waterways on Saturday. "The flotilla is suitable to operate in wide stretches of waterways and provides more cargo carrying capacity for the same draft as compared to self-propelled vessels. This will lower per tonne kilometre cost on account of saving fuel," a senior IWAI official said.
The high-power tug with twin propeller and 14 tonne bollard pull and two dumb barges of 1000 tonne capacity each have been built for cargo movement on the country's national waterways. The barge has been procured at a cost of Rs 16.24 crore, the dimension of the barge is 59.4 metre long and 1.5 metre in breadth with loaded draft of 2.5 metre. Gopal Krishna, Secretary, Union ministry of Shipping, will flag off the launch of the tug-barge flotilla comprising Tug Trishul, Dumb Barge Kalpana Chawla and Dumb Barge APJ Abdul Kalam at Garden Reach Jetty 2.
It may be mentioned that the state government has assured the IWAI that availability of land will not be a problem for construction of the proposed jetty stations in Bengal under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). The GR Jetty in Garden Reach is one of the most important jetties that are being developed by IWAI.
It has already earmarked around five critical points where deposition of silt is acting as a barrier in the smooth movement of vessels. "From Tribeni to Farakka, there are places where the water level is extremely low, particularly from March to May. We have taken up sustained dredging wherever it is required," an IWAI official said. The National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is being developed under the JMVP with technical and investment support from the World Bank over a period of six years at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore.