Union Minister of Shipping G.K. Vasan on Monday said that inland waterways will play a major role in coal transportation in the next 7-8 years.

The Government is particularly hopeful of transportation of imported coal from Haldia port to nearly a dozen of power plants along the National Waterway–1 between Kolkata and Allahabad.

Globally, nearly half of the coal is transported through waterways. However, in India, coal is largely transported by railways, followed by road.

NTPC project

Vasan today flagged off a NTPC project to transport 3 million tonne imported coal a year, from Haldia port to its Farakka thermal power station in West Bengal, through the Ganges. The company may extend the scope of water transportation to 7.5 mt a year in the next couple of years.

“At present 10 thermal power stations are operational along NW-1. Another 11 projects with 15,000 MW installed capacity are expected to come up along the course in the next five to eight years. NW–1 is fully ready to cater to the transportation needs of NTPC and other industrial units for transportation of bulk cargo required for the plants located on the banks of the Ganges,” he said.

Vasan also inaugurated a permanent inland water transport terminal of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) at Garden Reach jetty-2 at the Kolkata Dock System of Kolkata Port trust with an investment of nearly Rs 38 crore. NTPC has appointed Jindal ITF, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Jindal Saw Ltd, for the trans-loading operations to Farakka. While part of the consignment will be used at 2100 MW Farakka thermal power station, the rest will be transported to NTPC’s 1340-MW facility at Kahalgaon in Bihar using the merry-go-round (rail network) between Farakka and Kahalgaon.

According to a Jindal ITF spokesperson, the company has invested nearly Rs 500 crore for trans-shipper at the Sand heads, 23 barges and setting up inland water terminal at Farakka and a conveyor belt system. According to Amitabh Verma, Chairman, IWAI, the project would save NTPC’s cost for coal transportation by at least 15 per cent.