River-based industrial corridor likely

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To promote private investment in inland waterways, the PMO has formed a committee.
To promote private investment in inland waterways, the PMO has formed a committee.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) is to promote a river-based industrial corridor along the national waterways, similar to the rail freight corridor .

To promote private investment in inland waterways, the PMO has formed a committee that will assess and come up with approaches and proposals for scaling up private investment, besides suggestions for standardised model concession agreements (MCAs). These will be prepared “quickly” for possible areas of investment, said an official release.

Earlier, the concession agreement finalisation had taken three-four years for the ports and highways sector. And there was no reason why the Allahabad-Haldia stretch (National Waterway-1) could not be a river-based industrial corridor, it said, adding that Rhine and Danube rivers were lifelines of transport in Europe.

Since January, the PMO has identified and fast-tracked implementation of key projects in National Waterways — the Varanasi-Haldia stretch of the Ganga (NW-1); the Brahmaputra in Assam (NW-2); and the inland stretch in Kerala (NW-3).

Committee constituted

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has witnessed private investments to transport coal and fertiliser on NW-1, foodgrains and coal on NW-2 and cargo on NW-3.

A committee has now been constituted with the Secretary (Planning), Secretary (Shipping), DG (IWAI), and representatives of Department of Economic Affairs, to identify new areas for private investment, both in infrastructure and in transportation and multiple business models that could then be bid out through concessions. This will be supplemented by designing Model Concession Agreements and other standardised documents to facilitate rapid scaling up of investment.

(This article was published on July 17, 2012)
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