The government has decided to operate the terminal on public-private partnership (PPP) model
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 12 inaugurated the multi-modal hub at Varanasi under the Jal Marg Vikas Project. The hub is part of National Waterways-1 (NW-1) which connects Varanasi to Haldia.
"This is for the first time that national waterways is being used for commercial purposes at such a large scale," PM Modi said after inaugurating the hub.
JMV project, which is being jointly funded by the Indian government and World Bank, has three multi-modal hubs (at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia), two inter-modal hubs, five Roll On – Roll Off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs and new navigation lock at Farakka across the entire stretch of river Ganga. The route will officially make NW-1 operational for ferrying cargo vessels.
"This multi-modal terminal highlights that eastern UP, UP as a whole and northern India is now linked to West Bengal," Modi said.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the state-run agency tasked with reviving all the national waterways in India, signed a contract with World Bank in February this year for financial and technical assistance. According to IWAI’s estimates, out of the total 800 million $375 million would be given by the World Bank, $380 million will be provided by the Centre from its own resources and the balance will be from the private sector.
The Varanasi terminal has been built at an approximate cost of Rs 207 crore and has a capacity of 1.26 MPTA. It is spread over 33.34 hectares of land. The project has been completed in a little over two years and had commenced in June 2016.
According to officials from shipping ministry, the NW-1 is capable of carrying cargo up to 2,000 tonnes.
“We will transport 80 lakh tonne cargo this year… Within two-three years, we will ship 270 lakh tonne cargo over Ganga,” union minister for shipping, Nitin Gadkari, said.
The government has decided to operate the terminal on public-private partnership (PPP) model.
“Selection of the PPP operator through an International Competitive Bidding is at an advanced stage and expected to be completed by December 2018,” a statement released by the ministry said.
The prime minister also received the first container vessel for NW-1 which was shipped by PepsiCo. The consignment transported 16 containers equivalent to “16 truckloads of food and snacks”.
"The cargo has substituted 16 trucks and has saved close to Rs 70-75 crore," the prime minister said.
Source: Ministry of Shipping
Modi said that the transportation of container vessel is not only shipment of cargo but example of "New India".
"Not only cement, but vegetables, fruits, handicrafts from Varanasi etc will soon be transported through the route," he said adding that "With time, waterways will not only be known for cargo transportation but for cruise tourism as well".
“Varanasi was only a holy city until now… But now, we have a national waterway running... and we will see Varanasi as an economic city,” Yogi Adityanath, chief minister, Uttar Pradesh said.Development of these hubs is part of JMVP, approved by the cabinet in January 2018. The entire project is expected to be completed by 2023 and will be developed at the cost of about Rs 5,369.18 crore.