New Delhi: MV VV Giri, a vessel of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), had begun its landmark pilot movement on 23 April from Kolaghat in East Midnapore district of West Bengal to Bhagalpur in Bihar with a cement consignment of 240 tonnes. The vessel’s journey commenced from Kolaghat on Rupnarayan river (National Waterway 86) to reach Bhagalpur via river Ganga (NW 1).
This marks the beginning of an integrated cargo movement involving 2 different national waterways: NW 86 and NW 1. The Rupnarayan (NW 86) connects with river Ganga (NW 1) at Geokhali near Haldia. On its return trip, the vessel will bring fly ash/pet coke.
A private cement company has committed a consignment of 1.20 lakh tonnes of cement per annum from its plant at Salboni in East Midnapore district in West Bengal to various destinations on river Ganga (NW 1) in the States of Jharkhand and Bihar.
Earlier this year, an IWAI vessel MV Zakir Hussain had transported 350 tonnes of cement consignment from Haldia to Patna. The Union government plans to make cargo movement on NW-1 (Ganga river) a regular feature.
Many prominent cement companies have shown interest in transporting their cargo through river NW 1, which the IWAI is developing under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), with World Bank’s technical and financial assistance at an estimated cost of Rs 5,369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with a capacity of 1,500-2,000 tonnes.
The IWAI came into existence on 27 October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through a grant received from the Ministry of Shipping. The head office of the Authority is at Noida. The Authority also has its regional offices at Patna, Kolkata, Guwahati and Kochi and sub-offices at Allahabad, Varanasi, Bhagalpur Farakka, Hemnagar, Dibrugarh (Assam), Kollam, Bhubaneswar (Odisha) and Vijayawada (Andhra Pradesh).
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc.