The government approved the Rs 5,369-crore Jal Vikas Marg Project (JVMP) for enhanced navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of the National Waterway-1 (NW-1). The project spans Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and the major districts under its ambit are Varanasi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Buxar, Chhapra, Vaishali, Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Musrhidabad, Pakur, Hoogly and Kolkata.

“The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 at a cost of Rs 5,369.18 crore with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank,” the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement. The project is expected to be completed by March, 2023 and will provide an alternative mode of transport that will be environment friendly and cost effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country, the government said adding that it will boost infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services and navigation aids.

“NW-1 development & operations will lead to direct employment generation to the tune of 46,000 and indirect employment of 84,000 will be generated by vessel construction industry,” the statement said. About the funding part, the government said the IBRD loan component will be Rs 2,512 crore (USD 375 million) while the Government of India counterpart funds will be to the tune of Rs 2,556 crore (USD 380 million), to be sourced from budgetary allocation and proceeds from bond issue. Private sector participation under the PPP mode will be Rs 301 crore (USD 45 million). The major components of the project are fairway development, construction of a multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia, besides construction of inter-modal terminals at Kalughat and Ghazipur and construction of a new navigation lock at Farakka.

Besides there will be provision of navigational aids, construction of five pairs of Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) terminals, construction of Integrated Ship Repair and Maintenance Complexes and provision of River Information System (RIS) and Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS). The government said one of the major problems for commercially viable and safe navigation on NW-1 is low depth upstream of Farakka, due to low discharges from tributaries and the difficult hydro morphological characteristics of the Ganga. A pilot study on the Allahabad-Ghazipur stretch was commissioned by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to find solutions to this problem. Finance Minister Jaitley had announced the JMVP in 2014, to enable the  navigation of 1500 tonne vessels on the Ganges.