Kolkata Oct 30 : India’s first container vessel movement on the river Ganga (National Waterways-I) began on Tuesday, with the Inland Waterways Authority of India transporting container cargo belonging to the food and beverages giant PepsiCo (India) from Kolkata to Varanasi.
Union Shipping Secretary Gopal Krishna along with IWAI Chairman Pravir Pandey flagged off the vessel carrying the consignment in the presence of PepsiCo representatives.
Gopal Krishna said that cargo movement to the east and northeastern states will become easier with the new mode of transportation through waterways.
Development of multi-modal hubs within three years will lead to considerable increase in volume of cargo movement through waterways.
“Cruise tourism will also improve by next year,” he said.
The vessel — MV Rabindranath Tagore — is transporting 16 containers equivalent to 16 truckloads of food and snacks through the river Ganga, and will reach Varanasi in 9-10 days.
It will make its return journey with fertilisers from IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.
The central government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project form Haldia to Varanasi (1,390 km) at about Rs 5,369 crore with the technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.
The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with a capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT.
IWAI officials said container cargo transport reduces handling cost, allows for easier modal shift, decreases pilferage and damage, besides enabling cargo owners to lessen their carbon footprints.