Inland Waterways Authority of India, Ministry of Shipping, has invited expressions of interest for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1. The scope of work involves consultancy for detailed feasibility study and detailed engineering for ancillary works for capacity augmentation of NW-1.

The project envisages the development of the Allahabad-Haldia National Waterway-1 between Allahabad-Varanasi-Buxar-Patnand Haldia on Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river and is known as Jal Marg Vikas. NW-1 has a total length of 1,620 km in India.

NW-1 is set to receive an initial $50 million funding and technical support from the World Bank, which is expected to provide financial assistance for the waterway project involving the creation of two barrages on the Allahabad-Haldia cargo and human waterway route.

The 1,620-km stretch of the river was declared a national waterway in 1986 and Inland Waterways Authority of India has developing the channel.

In August this year, the Ministry of Shipping completed the setting up of a monitoring unit for the project for which the detailed project report is currently underway.

The Haldia-Allahabad National Waterway project will make the riverine trade route navigable for the entire year and will also increase cargo handling capacity of vessels to 1,200-1,500 DWT. At present, the route is navigable only for six months of a year.

The project, which is proposed to be implemented in five-six years, will include dredging so as to offer 3 metres of draft, strengthening of open river navigation techniques, river training and conservancy, structural improvement, modern river information system, digital GPS, night navigation facilities and modern methods of channel marking.

The estimated Rs. 4,700-crore project on Ganga will have terminals at Allahabad, Varanasi and Gazipur in Uttar Pradesh; Sahibganj in Bihar; and Katwa in West Bengal, to facilitate transshipment and movement of bulk cargo on the riverine trade route.

By 2020, the government hopes that the Jal Marg Vikas project will enable commercial navigation of at least 1,500-tonne vessels to Allahabad round the year, as well as cruise tours connecting religious places. At present, cruise ships operate between Kolkata and Varanasi for about eight months in a year.

Meanwhile, the government is formulating a cabinet note for Rs. 1,05,000 crore investment in national waterways projects. Of this, Rs. 25,000 crore will come from the government while Rs. 80,000 crore is likely to be garnered from the private sector to accomplish the target of building national waterways through public-private partnership.


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