New Delhi:  Prime Minister Narendra Modi government's initiatives are garnering global applause - be it Swachh Bharat or the Clean Ganga mission. Now the turnaround that has come in India’s Inland Water Transport sector with the beginning of plying of vessels on river Ganga between Varanasi and Kolkata has garnered global interest and appreciation.
Pravir Pandey, Vice Chairman of IWAI, was invited to address the students and faculty at the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA on April 25 to tell the story of how India managed to successfully implement the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) on river Ganga.
Pandey, who was at the MIT’s School of Planning and Architecture on a special invitation from the institution delved on the journey of traversing the Ganga for implementation of infrastructure projects under JMVP, a Rs 5,369 crore project, financially and technically supported by the World Bank.
A detailed presentation was also made on the project scope and framework, the challenges, opportunities and success stories of implementing large scale inland water transport infrastructure.

On November 12, 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated India’s first riverine multimodal terminal on Ganga at Varanasi to the nation. The same day, he also received the country’s first container cargo that travelled on National Waterway -1 (river Ganga) from Kolkata to Varanasi.

The twin events not only marked watershed moments in the development of IWT in India but also broke ground for a spurt in business activities on National Waterway (NW)-1. A slew of cargo owners like PepsiCo, Emami Agrotech, IFFCO Fertilizers, Dabur India have come on board IWT.

India’s National Waterway -1 (Ganga) has seen a major shift in a short span of time.

The Union finance minister, in his budget speech for 2014-15, delivered on July 10, 2014, had announced Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). In four years, close to Rs 2,000 crore worth of work is already on the ground on National Waterway-1. Of the three multimodal terminals being built on river Ganga under JMVP, the one at Varanasi is already operational and second in Sahibganj (Jharkhand) will be ready by mid-2019.

Also read: How Varanasi water terminal can change how India sends its cargoes

The cost of logistics in India, at 15% of total GDP, is about twice as the costs in the United States.

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) is being implemented for capacity augmentation of India’s National Waterway-1 on Haldia-Varanasi stretch for a distance of 1390 Km.
NW-1, along with the proposed Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor and NH-2, constitute the Eastern Transport Corridor of India connecting the National Capital Region (NCR) with the eastern and north-eastern states.

The corridor will function as a link to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and other east and south-east Asian countries through the Kolkata Port and Indo- Bangladesh Protocol Route.