Waterways body to invite EoIs to move coal in Sandheads-Barh route

Santanu Sanyal Kolkata | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on September 10, 2012

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is to shortly invite expressions of interest (EoIs) for transportation of imported coal along the Sandheads (mouth of the Hooghly river) – Barh (Bihar) stretch of the National Waterway Number 1 (NW1).

An estimated three million tonnes of imported coal annually have to be transported through the route for NTPC’s 3,300-MW Barh power plant due to be commissioned in 2013.

This is according to the memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed between IWAI and NTPC in September 2008.

The MoU also pre-supposes transportation of three million tonnes of imported coal annually from the Sandheads to Farakka along the same NW1 to meet the requirement of NTPC’s Farakka thermal power plant in West Bengal.

The Farakka coal transportation project, being implemented by Jindal ITF, is believed to be in advanced stage.

“Barring unforeseen developments, the barge movement of imported coal for the Farakka plant should start in the first quarter of 2013”, a spokesman for IWAI told Business Line.

The total cost of the Barh coal transportation project is estimated at Rs 1,100 crore against Rs 650 crore for the Farakka coal transportation project.


One reason for this is the distance – 1,100 km from the Sandheads to Barh as compared to 700 km or so from the Sandheads to Farakka. The other reason is the Farakka Barrage.

The barges carrying coal for Barh plant have to negotiate the Farakka Barrage afflicted with several problems. The lock gates of the barrage being old would not always function properly.

“We’ve urged the Ministry of Water Resources, currently, in-charge of the barrage, to hand over the operation of the barrage to IWAI but with little success so far”, the spokesman said. “We’ve even approached the highest office”.

About 80 barges, each of the capacity of 1,500 tonnes and requiring, when loaded ,a draft not exceeding 2.1 metres, will be needed to undertake transportation of coal for the Barh plant.

The turnaround time is estimated at 11 days.

The operation will be 10 months a year as the balance two months will be required to undertake repair and maintenance of transhipper (storage capacity 60,000 tonnes) to be stationed at the Sandheads.

A 3.5-km long conveyor system will connect the river jetty with the coal stackyard within the plant at Barh.

The per tonne freight cost for the barge movement from the Sandheads to Barh has been estimated at Rs 1,623 a tonne (inclusive of port charges, handling charges including the cost of unloading at Barh ) as compared to Rs 987/tonne for Farakka project.

The Barh figure has been arrived on the basis of 16 per cent IRR after factoring the capital and operating cost.

IWAI would like the initial contract to be valid for 10 years but NTPC, it is understood, is in favour of a seven-year contract.

There will be, however, escalation clause, it is learnt.

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Published on September 10, 2012
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