Prime Minister Narendra Modi will flag off the world's longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, and inaugurate a 'Tent City' on the banks of the Ganga river in Varanasi on January 13 via video conferencing.
His office said in a statement that he will also inaugurate and lay the foundation stones for several other inland waterways projects worth more than Rs 1,000 crore during the event.
MV Ganga Vilas will begin its journey from Varanasi and sail around 3,200 km in 51 days to reach Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh, traversing across 27 river systems in the two countries, it said.
Modi said the 51-day river cruise is a unique opportunity to connect with the country's cultural roots and discover beautiful aspects of its diversity.
The cruiser has three decks, 18 suites on board with a capacity of carrying 36 tourists and having all luxury amenities. The maiden voyage has 32 tourists from Switzerland signing up for the entire length of the journey, it noted.
The PMO said the cruise has been curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world. The cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots, including world heritage sites, national parks, river 'ghats' and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.
The journey will give the tourists an opportunity to embark upon an experiential voyage and indulge in the art, culture, history, and spirituality of India and Bangladesh.
In line with the prime minister's endeavour to boost river cruise tourism, the service will help unlock the huge untapped potential of the sector and herald a new age of tourism for India, it said.
The 'Tent City' at Varanasi has been conceptualised on the banks of the River Ganga to tap the potential of tourism in the region, the PMO said.
The project has been developed opposite city ghats which will provide accommodation facilities and cater to the increased tourists influx in Varanasi, especially since the inauguration of the Kashi Vishwanath Dham.
It has been developed by the Varanasi Development Authority in PPP mode. The tourists will reach the 'Tent City' by boats from different ghats situated in the vicinity. The 'Tent City' will be operational from October to June every year and will be dismantled for three months due to rise in river water level in the rainy season.
Among other projects, Modi will inaugurate Haldia Multi Modal Terminal in West Bengal. Developed under Jal Marg Vikas Project, it has a cargo handling capacity of around over three Million Metric Tonne Per Annum (MMTPA) and the berths are designed to handle vessels up to around 3000 Deadweight tonnage (DWT).
Modi will also inaugurate four floating community jetties at Saidpur, Chochakpur, Zamania in Ghazipur district and at Kanspur in Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh. Besides, foundation stone will be laid for the five community jetties at Digha, Nakta Diyara, Barh, Panapur in Patna district and Hasanpur in Samastipur district in Bihar by Modi.
More than 60 community jetties are being constructed along Ganga across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal to boost economic activities and improve the livelihood of local communities in the region, the PMO said.
The community jetties would play a key role in improving the livelihoods of people by providing simple logistics solutions for small farmers, fishery units, unorganised farm producing units, horticulturists, florists and artisans focussing on economic activities in and around the hinterland of Ganga.
Modi will also inaugurate Maritime Skill Development Centre for North East at Guwahati. It will help in honing the rich talent pool in the North Eastern region and will provide for better employment opportunities in the burgeoning logistics industry.
In addition to these, the PMO said, Modi will also lay the foundation stone for a ship repair facility and an elevated road at Pandu Terminal in Guwahati. The ship repair facility at the Pandu Terminal will save a lot of valuable time as it takes more than a month for a ship to be transported to the Kolkata repair facility and back.
Moreover, it will also result in huge savings in terms of money as the transportation cost of the ship will also be saved. The dedicated road connecting the Pandu Terminal to NH 27 will enable 24-hour connectivity, the PMO said.
(With PTI inputs)