Mr Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge), Chemical, and Fertilisers, while addressing a press conference here, highlighted that inland waterways is one of the most important pillars of the “Arth-Ganga” project, which will facilitate inclusive growth and play a key role in the generation of enormous employment opportunities in the National Waterways stretch.
He emphasised: “Almost half of the Indian population lives around Ganges River belt, in which about 1/5th of all India’s freight originates and 1/3rd terminates in the states around Ganges Belt.”
The Ministry of Shipping has taken several initiatives in the last few years, resulting in increase in the number of inland cruises from 3 to 9, cargo from 30,00,000 MT to 70,00,000 MT and vessels inflow from 300 to 700.
The Ministry has carried out many activities, including developing small jetties, especially for the benefit of farmers, traders and the general public in the 1,400 km stretch of National Waterway-1 from Banaras to Haldia. As a result, farmers will get better returns for their produce as the transportation of goods will become easier and cost-effective. It will improve ‘Ease of Living’ and ‘Ease of Doing Business’, said a release.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is deploying small floating jetties and 10 RoRo vessels for easier and cost-effective transportation of goods/cargo as shown in the image.
The Minister also said that the Ministry is developing the Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Freight Village and Sahibganj (Jharkhand) Industrial Cluster-cum-Logistics Park with the objective of creating synergy with inland waterways, at a cost of Rs 200 crore. This will generate enormous direct and indirect employment, giving an economic boost to the area.
Mr Mandaviya added that India will continue to support Nepal in its economic transformation and that National Waterway-1 will be the main conduit with Nepal as follows: from Varanasi to Nautanwa (280 km), Kaughat to Raxaul (204 km) and Sahibganj to Biratnagar (233 km). Earlier, Nepal was only connected through Kolkata and Visakhapatnam ports for cargo transit. Now, inland waterways, particularly NW-1, will be allowed under the Treaty for Transit of Cargo between the two countries. It will save logistics cost and decongest Kolkata Port as well.