Inland Waterways Authority of India Current Affairs - 2019

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PM inaugurates Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal at Sahibganj

Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated India’s second Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal (built at Sahibganj) online from Ranchi, Jharkhand. He also laid the foundation of a secretariat building in the state capital (Ranchi) which will come up at an estimated cost of Rs.1238.92 crore.

About Multi-Modal Cargo Terminal at Sahibganj

This is the 2nd of three Multi Modal Terminals (MMTs) being constructed on river Ganga under Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). In November 2018, PM Modi inaugurated first MMT at Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh.

The Rs.290 crore multi-modal cargo terminal has been built by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on River Ganga at Sahibganj.

It will have a cargo storing capacity of 3 million tonne (MT) per year, a stockyard and parking and berthing space for two vessels.

Government has also planned an investment of Rs.376 crores for capacity enhancement in Phase-II to 54.8 lakh tonnes per annum. The development in Phase II will be entirely made by private concessionaire, under public-private partnership (PPP) mode.

Importance:

It will open up industries of Jharkhand and Bihar to global market and provide Indo-Nepal cargo connectivity through waterways route.

It will play an important role in transportation of domestic coal from local mines located in Rajmahal area (in Sahibganj district) to other thermal power plants located along National Waterway-1 (NW-1).

Cargo to be transported from terminal includes coal, stone chips, fertilisers, cement and sugar.

The convergence of Road-Rail-River Transport at Sahibganj through the new Multi Modal Terminals will connect this part of hinterland to Haldia (in Kolkata), to North-East states via Bangladesh by river-sea route and further to Bay of Bengal.

Iwai Ship Carrying Bhutanese Cargo flagged off from Assam to Bangladesh

In a first ever movement of its kind, IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India) ship carrying Bhutanese cargo was flagged off from Dhubri in Assam to Narayanganj in Bangladesh over Brahmaputra River and the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route.

The cargo carrying stone from Bhutan to be delivered in Bangladesh was digitally flagged-off by Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) and Chemical & Fertilizers.

Key Highlights

Background: Until now, Bhutan has been exporting significant quantity of stone aggregates to Bangladesh via land route by trucks from Phuentsholing in Bhutan which is 160 KMs from IWAI’s Dhubri jetty in Assam. This new route development is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision of promoting cargo transportation via inland waterways.

Iwai Ship carries 1000 MT of stones aggregates i.e. about 70 trucks would be required to transport the same cargo by road. In return journey of the vessel Bangladesh will send jute and rice to Bhutan in same vessel.

Benefits

This move will strengthen relations between the neighbouring countries thus will be beneficial to all countries involved i.e. India, Bhutan and Bangladesh.

The transport of cargo via this route will reduce travel time by 8 to 10 days, and will cut down transportation cost by 30%, bringing down logistics costs.

It will also be more environment friendly mode of transport.

Other than strengthening India’s ties with its neighbouring countries, this new development will also open up an alternate route to country’s North Eastern states, making it easier and cheaper to reach goods to these places from other parts of the country.

Dredging undertaken along Ship route:

Capital dredging was carried out to maintain an assured draft in navigation channel

Maintenance dredging will be carried out as and when required

Importance: This is for the 1st time ever, an Indian waterway is being used for transport of cargo between two countries, using India for transit.

Steps Taken by Government for promoting Inland Waterways

Currently, at least 10 other National Waterways are under development.

Centre government is also undertaking many initiatives to increase use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment such as providing assured depth of water in channels, terminals at regular intervals, navigation aids (ex- GPS and River Information System), facilities for mechanized handling of cargo handling etc.

At major ports of country a minimum 40 % discount and priority in berthing is being given to coastal vessels.

Central Government has also provided Licensing relaxations under section 406 and 407 of Merchant Shipping Act 1958 for fisheries/animal husbandry products/fertilizers/horticultural/agricultural products/empty containers as well as containers being transshipped from another Indian port, special vessels such as Ro-Ro (Roll-on/roll-off), Ro-Pax (roll-on/roll-off passenger), Project cargo/ Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC).