Inland Waterways Authority to procure 60 vessels

Kolkata, Nov 4 (IANS) Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will procure around 60 vessels in multiple batches to facilitate transport through inland waterways, a top official said on Friday.

“We will be procuring 60-65 vessels in multiple tranches to facilitate transportation through inland waterways. Of this, as many as 25 will be LNG-fuelled vessels. The procurement will be made in different categories like ferry and cargo services,” said the authority’s Vice Chairman Pravir Pandey, who is also Project Director of Jal Marg Vikas.

Each vehicle will cost around Rs 15 crore, he said. The IWAI, which is not a commercial organisation, will offer vessels to private players to run on an operate and maintenance (O&M) basis.

The Government is developing National Waterway 1 (NW-1) under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank. “The estimated project cost has been revised upward to Rs 5,369 crore from the initial estimation of Rs 4,200 crore. Of the total project cost, about Rs 2,800 crore of work has already been awarded,” he said.

With its objective of providing safe, environment friendly and economical mode of transportation through NW-1, the authority signed a contract with Germany-based vessel design company – DST, Germany to design vessels, especially suited to navigate the 1,620 km stretch of NW-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly stretch).

The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts and will be of high carrying capacity, and most importantly, will be environment friendly, he said.

Pandey explained that one of the most important navigational challenges for NW-1 was the kind of vessels that would run on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly stretch.

Keeping in view the difficult hydro-morphological characteristics of the river in the upper reaches between Patna and Varanasi, it is important to have vessels which can ply on low draft, with high carrying capacity and are economically viable.

With demand for transportation of cars through NW-1, the design company was initially tasked to develop low draft vessels that can carry up to 150-200 vehicle. “We have asked them to submit two designs for vessels,” he said.

The first phase of Jal Marg Vikas project include development of multi modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj and the project is expected to facilitate navigation of commercial vessel with a capacity of 1,500-2,000 tonnes.

The Haldia terminal in West Bengal has already received a commitment of 5.92 MMTPA of cargo volume by 2018, the year the terminal will be ready for operation, the official said.

In Uttar Pradesh, an inter-modal terminal has also been proposed to be constructed at Nawapura, Ghazipur on the bank of the river. “The possibility of LNG fuel bunkering at the proposed terminal is also being explored,” IWAI official said.

IWAI is also planning to raise Rs 1,000 crore via a bond issue in two separate tranches and the first issuance of Rs 500 crore is expected to be in December, while another Rs 500 crore will be raised in February 2017, Pandey added.