Link­ing rivers at 40,000 cr

With the aim of decongesting the move­ment of goods on land and pro­mot­ing en­vi­ron­ment friendly trans­porta­tion, the gov­ern­ment has de­cided to push the pro­posal for link­ing rivers.

Cargo Talk - - Rail/Road -

Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi has de­cided to step up ef­forts to link rivers so that com­pa­nies can move cargo from food­grains, ce­ment and fer­til­izer to cars us­ing wa­ter­ways. The pro­pos­als to link ma­jor rivers to fa­cil­i­tate commerce can be traced to the Bri­tish colo­nial days. But In­dia has not worked on de­vel­op­ing the 14,500km (9,000 miles) of its in­land wa­ter­ways as an al­ter­na­tive route to move cargo, even though five na­tional wa­ter­ways were de­clared since 1986. Only three of those are op­er­a­tional now. Ac­cord­ing to the Min­istry of Ship­ping, the trans­porta­tion cost for in­land wa­ter­ways is 1.06 per tonne per kilo­me­tre, while it is 2.58 for high­ways. Ac­cord­ing to Amitabh Verma, Chair­man of the In­land Wa­ter­ways Author­ity of In­dia, lack of vi­sion and funds has been the cause of de­lay. In­land Wa­ter­ways Author­ity of In­dia is a 29-year-old body re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing in­fra­struc­ture on wa­ter­ways. This long-pend­ing plan has been pushed af­ter power pro­ducer NTPC suc­cess­fully trans­ported coal from the port of Sa­gar Is­land, up for about 560km, to the Farakka ther­mal plant in West Ben­gal.

Kaushal Kishore Sharma, Di­rec­tor of Oper­a­tions, NTPC said, “Fer­ry­ing coal through rivers eases con­ges­tion, is en­vi­ron­ment friendly and there is no ad­di­tional cost.”

Verma added that more than 40,000 crore ($6 bil­lion) will be needed to de­velop the new wa­ter­ways. Fund­ing is ex­pected from World Bank, Asian De­vel­op­ment Bank and Ja­pan In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency be­sides the fed­eral bud­get. The gov­ern­ment pre­sented leg­is­la­tion in May. This would grant the gov­ern­ment rights to reg­u­late and de­velop 101 chan­nels across 24 states for ship­ping and nav­i­ga­tion, in ad­di­tion to the five wa­ter­ways. The bill is likely to be passed in the Novem­ber ses­sion of the Par­lia­ment. Adding to this, Verma said, “By May 2016, we will award the con­tracts and by Novem­ber we ex­pect some work to start. Engi­neer­ing de­sign de­tails will be avail­able for 53 new wa­ter­ways by June 2016.”

In its plan to make trans­porta­tion of cargo eas­ier, the Gov­ern­ment of Ut­tarak­hand in­au­gu­rated its first lo­gis­tics hub in Pant­na­gar. The project for the hub started in Oc­to­ber 2012 as a part­ner­ship be­tween the State In­dus­trial De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion of Ut­tarak­hand Ltd (SID- CUL) and pub­lic sec­tor en­ter­prise Con­tainer Cor­po­ra­tion of In­dia Ltd (CONCOR). This hub will bring re­lief to in­dus­tries which man­u­fac­ture prod­ucts in Ut­tarak­hand and trans­port them to the other states.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials say that an in­vest­ment of 95 crore was made on the hub and it is ex­pected to gen­er­ate rev­enues worth 450 crore an­nu­ally, to be shared equally by both com­pa­nies. R Ra­jesh Ku­mar, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor, SIDCUL says, “Poor con­nec­tiv­ity made in­vestors hes­i­tant but with the com­ple­tion of the first phase of the hub, the state is hope­ful of in­creased in­vest­ments.”

There are more than 700 in­dus­tries in Pant­na­gar. As freight trains will trans­port cargo di­rectly from the lo­gis­tics hub to the In­land Con­tainer De­pot (ICD) at New Delhi, it will also be cost ef­fec­tive. Spread over 40 acres, the hub houses a ware­house with fa­cil­i­ties in­clud­ing track park­ing, ser­vice cen­tre, plat­forms and dor­mi­to­ries. SL Semwal, Gen­eral Man­ager, SIDCUL says, “The hub com­prises a sys­tem­atic lay­out for easy ar­rival and de­par­ture of freight trains.”

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