Inland waterways to hire disaster management consultant

Kolkata, Nov 6 (IANS) Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has planned to engage a global consultant to prepare a disaster management plan for the development of National Waterways one (NW1) on the Ganga river under the Jal Marg Vikas project, a top official said on Sunday.

“Large number of vessels will move up and down on the Ganga river when the project gets ready. The authority has to take care of the risk associated with development of the waterways,” the authority’s Vice Chairman Pravir Pandey, who is also Project Director of Jal Marg Vikas, told IANS.

“We are going to engage a consultant agency through a worldwide procurement process. The agency will prepare the disaster management plan,” Pandey said.

The idea is to gauge what could be the disaster that may occur in future and what would be the best response to tackle such problem, he said.

“The terms of reference are being prepared. The tender will be floated in two months time,” Pandey said.

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.

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).

He said along with the cargo vessels, there was a huge demand too for passenger transportation.

Based on the demand, the authority has analysed ferry services linking the cities on the bank of the river, he said.

“Ferry services will be introduced at Allahabad, Varanashi, Patna, Kolkata and Haldia. For that purpose, we will engage a joint venture between Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the Thompson Design Group for doing a study and prepare a detailed project report,” he said.

“The joint venture is expected to be on board in December to start the study,” Pandey said.

Regarding the cargo movement, he said automobile manufacturers could save up to Rs 5,000 per car on logistics cost if they use the river to transport vehicles.

“DST (the German firm) will be coming up with a design on shallow draft vessels that can carry up to 300 cars at one go. A road trailer can only carry six cars. So effectively, 50 trailers could be put off the road. This can result in an estimated savings of up to Rs 5,000 a car,” he said.

Maruti Suzuki has successfully transported cars using waterways and companies such as Honda and Mahindra have expressed their interest, he added.