The country is all set to get the first of its kind marine vessel for inland water transport of goods in India that can ply in shallow waters. While the government is in the final stage of finalizing the design for such vessels; it has also raised hopes for a cleaner mode of transportation through River Yamuna in Delhi and its neighbourhood.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the nodal body which is developing National Waterways (NWs) in the country, has got 13 standardised designs for the vessels to be operated in River Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia.
A senior official told Mail Today that these vessels are capable to operate in shallow water with depth of 2-3 meters. This will make waterways a viable alternative to road and rail transport.
"These vessels will need only 2-3 metres of depth and 45 meter wide water channel. One such vessel with 2000 tonnes capacity will remove nearly 140 truckloads of pressure from the road. Once developed, inland waterways will significantly decongest the highways across the country," the official said.
Sources said the feasibility of water-based transportation in and around Delhi would be examined as such specification of the vessels is also suitable for River Yamuna which has high silt deposit and thus shallow water. As of now, water taxi has been planned for Delhi for riverbased passenger movement.
This is also crucial for decongestion of the national capital where several experiments have failed to yield results. According to IWAI sources, these vessels could also be manufactured in India as part of Make in India initiative.
The designs have been prepared by a German firm and final tests are underway. The design will be finalized by next month. "One of the most important navigational challenges for national waterway-1 is the kind of vessels that will play on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly stretch.
Keeping in view the difficult characteristics of River Ganga in the upper reaches between Patna and Varanasi, it is important to have vessels which can ply on low depth, with high carrying capacity, and are economically viable and environment friendly," officials said.
The trial run of two cargo vessels from Varanasi on NW-1 was flagged off by Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari in August 2016. Earlier, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi had given its approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 (NW-1) at the cost of Rs 5,370 crore with assistance of the World Bank. The Project is expected to be completed by March 2023.