Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the newly constructed multi-modal terminal on River Ganga at Varanasi on Monday, the government said.
This is the first of the three multi-modal terminals and two Inter-Modal Terminals being constructed on Ganga (National Waterways 1) with a cost of Rs 2.06 billion in the first phase.
"The MMTs are being built as part of the Government's Jal Marg Vikas project that aims to develop the stretch of River Ganga between Varanasi to Haldia for navigation of large vessels up to 1,500-2,000 tonnes weight, by maintaining a drought of 2-3 metres in this stretch of the river and setting up other systems required for safe navigation," the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement Thursday.
The objective is to promote inland waterways as a cheaper and more environment-friendly means of transport, especially for cargo movement. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the project implementing agency for it.
"The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank, at an estimated cost of Rs 53.69 billion ($800 million, of which $375 is IBRD loan) on a 50:50 sharing basis between Government of India and the World Bank," the statement said.
The project entails construction of 3 multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia); 2 intermodal terminals; 5 Roll On - Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs; new navigation lock at Farakka; assured depth dredging; integrated vessel repair & maintenance facility, Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS), River Information System (RIS), river training & river conservancy works, it said.
The Varanasi multi-modal terminal has a capacity of 1.6 million tonne per annum and the work on this has started on June 2016.
Operation, management and further development of the multi-modal terminal is proposed to be entrusted to an operator on PPP model, the statement said adding, selection of the PPP operator through an international competitive bidding is at an advanced stage and expected to be completed by December 2018.
The project of the multi-modal terminal and proposed Freight Village at Varanasi are expected to generate 500 direct employment and more than 2,000 indirect employment opportunities, it said.
The prime minister will also receive India's first container vessel that sailed from Kolkata on October 30, carrying cargo belonging to PEPSICO (India) at Varanasi.
Container movement on an inland waterway in India is being done for the first time post-independence.
The IWAI vessel, MV Rabindranath Tagore is transporting 16 containers equivalent to 16 truckloads of food and snacks and is expected to reach Varanasi on 11th November 2018. It will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO.
In a separate event the same day, the prime minister will also inaugurate two National Highways projects - the Babatpur-Varanasi Airport road and Varanasi Ring Road. In addition to this, he will also inaugurate some sewerage projects in the city and lay the foundation stone for a project under Namami Gange programme of National Mission for Clean Ganga.