Major funding for WB waterways
The Government of India, the West Bengal State Government and the World Bank recently inked a Rs 770 crore project called the West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics and Spatial Development project, to revamp the inland water transport infrastructure in Kolkata, said the Ministry of Finance.
The project is aimed to fulfil the following purposes:
- Facilitate passenger and freight movement across the Hooghly river.
- Enhance the quality of life of its residents.
- Undertake spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata metropolitan area.
- Contribute to the growth of the state’s logistics sector.
Five of the most populous districts of southern West Bengal will be covered under the project, including the urban Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA), which has a population of around three crore.
The Hooghly river separates the Kolkata port from its large consumption centres: its wholesale market and its vast remote areas comprising entire north-east India and the two neighbouring countries, Nepal and Bhutan.
West Bengal’s ferries can offer a flexible and efficient mode of public transport for both passengers and freight, saving operating costs and reducing travel time as compared to road transport.
In the first phase, the project will witness Inland Water Transport System capacity and safety improvement, including rehabilitation of existing jetties, buying new ferries with enhanced design and installation of electronic gates in 40 locations.
In the second phase, it will support long-term investments for passenger movements, including in terminals and jetties, improve the design of the inland water transport vessels, ensure night navigation on the most hazardous and trafficked routes and crossing points, and encourage the private sector to invest in Ro-Ro vessels that will allow easier movement of trucks across the Hooghly river.