Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently inaugurated an inland waterways project and two national highways in Varanasi. The total length of the two national highways stands at 34 km and have been built at a cost of Rs 15.71 billion. As reported, the four-laning and development of the 17.25-km-long Babatpur-Varanasi Road on NH-56 has come up at a cost of Rs 8.12 billion and the 16.55-km Varanasi Ring Road Phase-I has cost nearly Rs 7.59 billion. The Babatpur Airport Highway will act as a link between Varanasi and the airport, and will go on to connect Sultanpur, Jaunpur and Lucknow. The Ring Road will have two road overbridges (ROBs) and a flyover, which will decrease traffic, pollution and fuel usage on NH-56 (Lucknow-Varanasi), NH-233 (Azamgarh-Varanasi), NH-29 (Gorakhpur-Varanasi) and Ayodhya-Varanasi highway.
The Prime Minister also inaugurated the first multi-modal waterways terminal on the Ganga river under the government’s Jal Marg Vikas Project. The project aims to develop the stretch of the river between Varanasi and Haldia so that large vessels weighing up to 1,500 to 2,000 tonne can navigate.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is executing the project, and the project is aimed at promoting inland waterways as a reasonable and eco-friendly means of transportation, particularly for cargo movement. The World Bank is providing technical assistance and monetary support for developing National Waterway-1 (Haldia-Varanasi stretch). The total cost of the project is estimated to be Rs 53.69 billion, which will be equally shared between the Government of India and the World Bank.
Under this project, three multi-modal terminals (Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia), two inter-modal terminals, five roll-on-roll-off (Ro-Ro) terminal pairs, new navigation lock at Farakka, assured depth dredging, integrated vessel repair and maintenance facility will be constructed. It will also come up with differential global positioning system (DGPS), river information system (RIS) and river training.