India to explore waterways for cargo movement

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Kochi, Feb 16 (ANI): The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) the statutory authority in charge of waterways in the country is promoting use of waterways for cargo movement in the country.

In India, with an extensive network of rivers, canals and backwaters, the potential for bulk transport through inland waterways is tremendous.

At present, the total cargo moved by inland waterways constitutes only 0.15 per cent of the total freight movement across the board.

Declared National Waterway in 1993, the 127 mile long National Waterway No.3, exists from Kollam to Kottapuram alongwith Champakara and Udyogmandal canals.

"It is capable of supporting the movement of cargo, and movement of persons. And is of great significance for promotion of tourism in state because tourism is linked to all water related and cruising activities. But whereas cargo is concerned, the waterways is holding a lot of unexploited potential which this waterway is holding," said S.P Gaur, Chairman, IWAI.

The bulk of the major cargo which is moved through National Waterways-3 consists mostly chemicals and products such as Sulphur, Rock Phosphate, Phosphoric Acid, salt, coal, zinc, furnace oil and fertilizers.

Industrial majors like Fertilizers and Chemicals Travancore Limited, FACT, Kochi Refineries, Indian Rare Earths, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and Indian Oil Corporation is largely dependent on this eco-friendly mode to transport their products.

"For Phosphorous, the raw material definitely it is water transport. And now we want to expand our products such as fertilizers. After sometime we had to transport some Sulphuric Acid to our Udyogmandal factory. There again we are referring this barge transport," said A. Ashokan, Chief Managing Director (CMD), Fertilizer and Chemicals Travancore Limited (FACT).

To bring further economic prosperity to the region, the IWAI is developing 11 terminals along the National Waterway No. 3.

Seven out of these terminals including Kottapuram, Aluva, Kayamkulam, Vaikkom, Thanneerumukkom Thrikunapuzha and Maradu have already been constructed and one at Kollam is under construction.

The completion of terminals will improve the movement of raw materials and finished goods from ports to industries and vice-versa.

At a workshop here, the IWAI stressed on the economic feasibility of National Waterway Number 3.

"Economic benefit in terms of comparison is like diesel can move one tonne cargo by 835 Km by waterways some 325 Km on railways and nearly 95 Km on roadways. A ratio of 8:3:1 exists between waterway, railway and roadways. So it is cheaper to that extent," said K Mohandas, Secretary, Shipping, Indian government.

Besides inter-modal mix with road and rail, cargo movement via National Waterway No. 3 provides an excellent opportunity for undertaking new linking projects to connect waterways with ports.

This would provide direct access to products and commodities from hinterland to ports contributing to cost advantage in exports. (ANI)

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