Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) ship MV V. V. Giri heralded a landmark pilot movement on April 23rd 2017 from Kolaghat in East Midnapore district of West Bengal to Bhagalpur in Bihar with a cement consignment of 240 tonnes on saturday.
The vessel’s journey commenced from Kolaghat on Rupnarayan river (National Waterway- 86) to reach Bhagalpur via river Ganga (NW-1), marking the beginning of an integrated cargo movement involving two different NWs – NW-86 and NW-1. Rupnarayan river (NW-86) connects with river Ganga (NW-1) at Geokhali near Haldia. On its return trip, the vessel will bring fly ash/pet coke.
A private cement company has committed a consignment of 1.20 lakh tonnes of cement per annum from its plant at Salboni in East Midnapore district in West Bengal to various destinations on river Ganga (NW-1) in the states of Jharkhand and Bihar.
Earlier this year, an IWAI vessel MV Zakir Hussain had transported 350 tonnes of cement consignment from Haldia to Patna. The Government plans to make cargo movement on NW-1 (Ganga river) a regular feature.
Many prominent cement companies have also shown interest in transporting their cargo through river NW-1 which the IWAI is developing under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), with technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at a cost of Rs. 5,369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 tonnes.
In fact, a US based media house in its latest issue of ‘Condé Nast Traveller’ has listed the river cruise on Ganga as one of the ‘six river cruises to take in 2017’. It has placed the luxury cruise vessel Ganges Voyager II which sails on the Ganga from Kolkata to Varanasi, in the league of cruises on Mekong and Yangtze in China, Amazon in South America, Volga in Russia and Irrawaddy in Myanmar.
Conde Nast’s endorsement of Ganga as a cruise destination is a shot in the arm for river tourism in India and the Inland Waterways Authority of India is upbeat with today’s cargo pilot project.
IWAI is also planning cruise operations on NW-1 (river Ganga) from Kolkata to Varanasi in collaboration with private cruise operators, providing facilities including navigation aids such as night navigation facility, embarking and disembarking at designated locations, facilitating expeditious crossing of Farakka Navigation Lock, pilotage, and assistance in distress
National Waterway NW-1 from Varanasi to Haldia is being developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), under the JMVP. In addition to becoming one of the principal cargo movement routes in India, “this stretch on NW-1 has good potential for river cruise tourism,” said IWAI in a statement.