New Delhi, Oct. 21: Planning Commission is learnt to have cleared a proposal to build an inland port on the Subernarekha in Sahebganj, a project that is expected to transform the economy of the mineral-rich state by providing the state’s first-ever river outlet for mining exports.
According to sources, the Inland Water Authority of India, which is under the Union ministry of shipping, would now invite bids for the project that was cleared by the commission at a meeting recently.
The commission also cleared the construction of a bridge on the Ganga from Sahebganj to Manihari with the sources confirming that the estimated cost of the twin projects would be around Rs 2,000 crore.
“When the inland port is functional, the state will generate exports of around Rs 3,000 crore per annum as major mining companies operate here (Jharkhand). This will make Santhal Pargana division the hub of Jharkhand’s economy,” said Nishikant Dubey, BJP MP from Godda and member from Santhal Pargana in the planning commission.
It would take around three years for the port to be built. The 470km-long Subernarekha originates from Piska village near Ranchi and meanders through Seraikela Kharsawan, East Singhbhum, before flowing into Bengal and Odisha to join Bay of Bengal near Talsari.
A port, which would take three years to build, would also radically improve life patterns of people living on its banks. “At present, state industries are forced to spend huge amounts on transportation of imported raw materials and export of finished products from ports in Bengal and Odisha. Transportation of bulk cargo through waterways is at least 25-30 per cent cheaper than road,” Dubey explained.
Officials maintained that Jharkhand had the potential to undergo an economic transformation, given that an Asian Development Bank-funded state highway and three national highways were coming up in addition to the port and the bridge.
“While the state has 40 per cent of the country’s mining resources, it is one of the biggest exporters of mining products to Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries. However, due to the absence of a port, mined products first need to be transported to ports in Odisha and Bengal to be exported,” said Dubey.
A planning commission official added that in future, with the bridge, a port and a network of highways, transportation would be much better organised, thereby reducing costs dramatically and boosting the local economy.
“Also, the Centre is ready to join a trilateral highway project involving India, Thailand and Myanmar that will connect Moreh in Manipur to Mae Sot in Thailand, via Myanmar. The port and the Ganga bridge in Jharkhand will emerge as key points in transportation of goods to South East Asian countries in the coming years,” the official added.