IWAI to improve inland waterways network

TE Raja Simhan Chennai | Updated on October 15, 2014 Published on October 15, 2014

Up the stream: The banks of the Brahmaputra in Guwahati. Cargo traffic on the Ganga and the Brahmaputra, National Waterway 1 and 2, is expected to double to around 65 million tonnes. - RITU RAJ KONWAR


Promotional activity planned to help boost demand for commercial operations

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), anticipating an increase in cargo traffic, plans to purchase 8-10 inland cargo vessels to operate on two key waterways – the Ganga and the Brahmaputra.

Following the Government’s push to this mode of transportation, it expects there will be a demand for 150-200 barges/vessels on the Ganga (National Waterways 1) in the next 3-4 years.

Cargo traffic on the two waterways, called the National Waterway 1 and 2, is expected to double to around 65 million tonne as inland water transport is efficient, economical and environment friendly mode for transportation, according to an IWAI official.

The authority plans to procure vessels suited to the existing fairway developed and maintained by IWAI at National Waterways 1 and 2 initially.

This is to demonstrate its competitiveness vis-à-vis rail and road and to create awareness among shippers, vessel operators and investors on the potential of IWT system.

New vessels

The vessels to be procured from Indian or global shipyards will be capable of doing 4-6 knots speed against the current speed of 3-4 knots.

The vessels will have a carrying capacity in the range of 1,500 to 4,000 tonnes for different stretches and could be either self-propelled or tug-and-push barge combination.

The Government’s and the authority’s planned developmental activities and promotional measures will see increased demand for cargo vessels for commercial operation on the NWs that are being developed, the official said.

There is a potential to move coal, foodgrain, fertiliser, cement, container, building materials, iron and steel and Over Dimensional Cargo on the NWs. Transportation of imported thermal coal and coke from ports in Bay of Bengal to various existing and future thermal power plants on river banks is the most promising prospect.

According to the IWAI website, movement of imported coal from Sandheads to NTPC plant at Farakka in West Bengal through 2,000 dead weight tonne barge has been a success.

Integrated network

RITES recently suggested development of an Integrated National Waterways Grid of total 4,500 km with six NWs.

According to IWAI, the grid will suitably connect the declared NWs from potential terminals to the nearest rail and road along with connectivity to the sea ports.

The planned National Waterways include Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System - Allahabad to Haldia (1,620 km); Brahmaputra system from Dhubri to Sadiya in Assam (891 km); West Coast Canal with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canal from Kottapuram to Kollam in Kerala (205 km); Kakinada to Puducherry canal system along with Godavari and Krishna river system in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (1,078 km); East Coast Canal integrated with Brahmani and Mahanadi delta river system Odisha and West Bengal (588 km).

According to IWAI, there is also a plan to develop the 2302-km long Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route covering Sunderbans Waterways in India and the river system of Bangladesh linking inland ports such as Haldia, Kolkata, Narayanganj, Ashuganj, Karimganj and Dhubri.

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Published on October 15, 2014
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