The Union government plans to set up a Rs 12,000 crore inland waterway project on the Brahmani River in Odisha. This project aims to facilitate the transportation of goods from four industrial clusters – Angul, Kalinga Nagar, Jagatsinghpur, and Dhenkanal – to the Paradip and Dhamra ports. The project will be executed through the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) model. Feasibility studies and necessary groundwork are currently underway, with expectations that they will conclude within the next 4-6 months.

The waterway will be set up jointly by Coal India Limited (CIL), Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Paradip Port, and the Odisha government. A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be formed to execute the project.

The project entails significant investments in activities like dredging and building navigational locks to manage variations in river depth. This will raise the transportation capacity of NW5 from 1 million tonnes of cargo per annum to 12-14 million tonnes by 2030. From the private sector, corporates like the JSW Group and Adani Group have reportedly expressed interest in participating in the project.

As of 15 August 2023, in all, there were 204 projects for its inland waterways by August 2023, with a cumulative budget of a colossal Rs 1,68,656 crores.

Inland Waterways

West Bengal leads the pack with 29 projects, indicating a strong emphasis on waterway development in the state. Maharashtra closely follows with 28 projects.

India’s waterways cargo movement was around 96.31 million tonnes in 2022-23, compared to 83.61 million tonnes in 2021-22. The government aims to escalate cargo movement on national waterways to 200 million tonnes by 2030 and to 500 million tonnes by 2047.

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