PM fast-tracks development of inland waterways

India has nearly 16,000 km of inland waterways of which about 5,000 km are navigable by large barges.

New Delhi: In a bid to ease the burden on
rail and road infrastructure, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
has taken steps to fast-track the development and use of
inland waterways by involving public and private sectors.

The National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) has agreed
to use the inland waterways to transport three million metric
tonnes of coal for Barh power project in Bihar.

A tripartite agreement has been signed between the NTPC,
the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and a private
developer, which has led to competitive transportation rates
for the NTPC, a PMO statement said.

It said a private sector investment of about Rs 650 crore
has been committed with regard to the Farakka Power Project in
West Bengal.

The waterways will be used to transport coal imported by
NTPC for its power plants.

At a meeting chaired by Principal Secretary to the Prime
Minister Pulok Chatterjee it was decided that the execution of
coal handling facility at Jogighopa and rail connectivity will
be taken up under the Non Lapsable Central Pool of Resources
(NLCPR) scheme.

A slew of decisions taken at the inter-ministerial
coordination committee meeting include a commitment by the
Food Corporation of India to provide cargo commitment for
three years for transportation of foodgrains to Tripura and
Assam from Kolkata and within Assam.

The Shipping Ministry has also been asked to consider
providing additional money to ensure night navigation
facilities on India-Bangladesh Protocol route.

The Ministry of External Affairs will try to extend the
period of Trade and Transit Protocol beyond March 2012 when it
comes for renewal to provide longer certainty to vessel
operators, the statement said.

Further, efforts shall be made for early completion of
Ashuganj multi-modal port by Bangladesh and its regular use as
a transit port.

Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and Oil India Limited will
also convey a firm commitment of cargo through Inland
Waterways Transport in two weeks to the Authority.

It was also decided that CONCOR will provide firm
commitment for transportation of part of their container cargo
from Pandu through IWT.

India has nearly 16,000 km of inland waterways of which
about 5,000 km are navigable by large barges.

In practice only 2000 km are utilised and managed by IWAI
which was established in 1986.


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