India takes bold step towards building huge waterways project
The Indian government has signalled its intent to go ahead with a major infrastructure project that could create thousands of jobs in the country.
The government has today signed a $375 million loan agreement with the World Bank that will support the development of the 845-mile inland waterways project on the Ganges.
The project will run from the northern city of Varanasi to the seaport of Haldia, taking huge amounts of cargo off the roads in one of the most populous regions in the country.
The World Bank estimates that the region generates about 370 million tons of freight annually, but currently only 5 million tons travels by water. The new project will greatly address this imbalance, and also help save more than 150,000 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent in greenhouse gas emissions.
Junaid Ahmad, World Bank Country Director for India, commented:
“Harnessing the mighty rivers of South Asia to build an effective multi-modal transport strategy will give the region a competitive edge on the global scene. This project will allow India to move goods seamlessly between road, rail and water, and bring down logistics’ costs. Importantly, it will help IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India) put in place environmentally-sustainable strategies for inland navigation that can be replicated on other waterways in India and other countries.”
The new funding will help build six multi-modal terminals, 10 roll-on, roll-off jetties, and ship-repair facilities. In addition, it will help build new locks and passenger jetties.
Arnab Bandyopadhyay, the World Bank's leader for the project, said:
“The Government of India has an ambitious plan to develop more than a 100 waterways that criss-cross the country”
The agreement for the project was signed today by Sameer Kumar Khare, in the Ministry of Finance; Pravir Pandey on behalf of Inland Waterways Authority of India; and Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, World Bank India.
Image Credit: World Bank