PM to greet India’s first container vessel on inland waterways in Varanasi

NEW DELHI: In a first for the country’s inland water transport, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 12 will receive a container vessel in Varanasi on the river Ganga, Union Minister NItin Gadkari said Sunday.

In the maiden container since Independence on inland vessel MV RN Tagore, food and beverages major PepsiCo is moving its 16 containers from Kolkata to Varanasi. The cargo containers will reach Varanasi on November 12.

“Inland waterways transport in India is set for a revolution and the massive work done on waterways has started showing impact,” Union shipping and Ganga rejuvenation minister Gadkari told PTI.

He said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will receive the container vessel travelled for the first time on inland waterways – NW 1 on the Ganga at Varanasi on November 12 at the newly developed multi-modal terminal and shall dedicate the terminal to the nation.

Gadkari said this is the country’s first container movement on inland vessel post-Independence, and a milestone moment in the history of India’s inland waterways transport sector.

PepsiCo (India) has moved 16 containers- equivalent to 16 truckloads- filled with food and snacks in the vessel MV RN Tagore which will make its return journey with fertilisers belonging to IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.

Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna along with IWAI chairman Pravir Pandey had flagged off the vessel carrying the consignment in the presence of PepsiCo representatives.

The event of flagging off the vessel last week had coincided with another momentous day for the IWT in India as IWAI’s first foray into public private partnership (PPP) model became a reality with the handing over of operation and management of its terminals in Kolkata to Summit Alliance Port East Gateway (India) Pvt Ltd (SAPEL) on a supply, operate and maintain (SOM) model.

The government earlier has said container cargo transport comes with several inherent advantages and added that it reduces the handling cost, allows easier modal shift, reduces pilferage and damage, it also enables cargo owners to reduce their carbon footprints.

The government is developing NW-1 (river Ganga) under JMVP from Haldia to Varanasi (1,390 km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 5,369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT.

Gadkari had flagged off a consignment of Maruti cars from Varanasi to Haldia in August 2016.

Since then pilot movements on National Waterways are currently being done on various stretches.

More than 15 of them have already been successfully completed, including integrated movements through NW-1 (Ganga), Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and NW-2 (Brahmaputra).

The PepsiCo cargo will be the first container movement on inland waterways in the country.

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