Parliamentary Consultative Committee on Shipping meets to Discuss inland Water Transport Sector
The Parliamentary Consultative Committee attached to the Ministry of Shipping met here today. The meeting was chaired by Shri Mukul Roy, Minister of State for Shipping. The discussions focussed on Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), its various activities and projects.
Welcoming the Members, the Minister of State for Shipping Shri Mukul Roy, highlighted the importance of Inland Water Transport Sector and informed that so far five waterways have been declared as National Waterways. These are: the Ganga- Bhagirathi- Hooghly river system from Haldia to Allahabad, the Brahmaputra river from Dhubri to Sadiya, the West Coast Canal from Kollam to Kottapuram along with Champakara and Udyogmandal canals, stretch viz. Kakinada to Puducherry stretch of canals along with Godavari and Krishna rivers; and East Coast Canal along with Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta. One more waterway that is Barak river from Lakhipur to Bhanga in Assam is in the process of declaration as the sixth National Waterway.
He further stated that IWAI is exploring the possibility of developing commercially viable stretches of NW-4 & NW-5 under Public Private Partnership mode with Viability Gap Funding Scheme of the Department of Economic Affairs.
Shri Roy said that the transportation of cargo has gone up to 70 million tonne per annum in 2010-11 which is about 4.2 billion ton km. IWAI has been able to upgrade infrastructure on three national waterways substantially. The investments made for creation of IWT infrastructure have, to an extent, resulted in a cumulative effect for generating confidence in the safe navigability of the waterways and a demand based scenario is now emerging for greater utilization of the waterways. Elaborating on his statement the Minister said that an indication to this effect is the coal transportation project for NTPC’s Farakka Power Plant for which a long term cargo assurance has been provided by NTPC due to which private sector has come forward to invest about Rs.650 crore in infrastructure and barges and Jindal ITF Ltd. has been selected by NTPC for this purpose through an open competitive bidding process. Coal, food grains, fertilizers, cement, POL, fly ash, containers, Over Dimensional Cargo etc are some of the major commodities identified for IWT mode and efforts are being made to identify and develop projects targeting specific movement of these commodities.
At the initiative of IWAI, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Environment & Forests, Government of West Bengal and Bangladesh authorities have approved the proposal to use an alternative route bypassing Core Area of Sunderbans Tiger Reserve and this route has been made operational from 1st June, 2011, within a short span of 5 months. It will prevent poaching; illegal infiltration and facilitate enhanced vigil on Indo-Bangladesh border by Border Security Force thereby enhancing national security.
Shri Roy announced that the transportation of ODC bound for Palatana Power Project in Tripura through operationalisation of a new Port of Call at Ashuganj in Bangladesh shall facilitate early completion of the Project and both units are now expected to be commissioned by March 2012.
He further stated that the work has commenced on the Kaladan Multi-modal Transit Transport Project in Myanmar in December 2010 and is expected to be completed by June 2013.
Shri K. Mohandas, Secretary, Ministry of Shipping and Ms. Bhupinder Prasad, Chairperson, IWAI responded to the queries of the Members.