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Waterway dream few steps away

- Project involves Brahmani, Kharasua & Hansua rivers

Bhubaneswar, June 30: Work on the proposed National Waterway No. 5 will begin shortly with the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) deciding to execute a part of it through a joint venture in two phases.

The 201-km stretch of the waterway involving three rivers — Brahmani, Kharasua and Hansua — between Jokadia near Kalinga Nagar and Paradip and Dhamra ports will be developed by the Noida-based central government agency in the first phase in collaboration with the state government and Paradip and Dhamra ports.

In the second phase, the stretch between Talcher and Jokadia (131km) will be developed. The two-phase project with a length of 332km will be executed for Rs 2,000 crore.

The state government, the IWAI, and the two other stakeholders today formalised a memorandum of understanding here in the presence of chief minister Naveen Patnaik. Authority chairman Amitav Verma inked the MoU on behalf of his organisation.

The proposed waterway will help the industries in Kalinga Nagar and Vyasa Nagar industrial hub, apart from mines in Talcher and Daitary, to transport their goods to and from the ports through the riverway. While a number of steel plants have come up in the Kalinga Nagar region, there are several coal mines at Talcher and iron ore and chromite mines at Daitary.

Earlier, The Telegraph had published a number of reports on the status of the proposed waterway. In November 2008, a total river and canal stretch of 588km covering parts of Odisha and Bengal was declared as National Waterway No. 5 by the central government through an act.

However, the project could not take off, as initially, the proposal to develop the waterway in public-private-partnership (PPP) mode was considered economically unviable. In December last year, it was decided to form a joint venture between the IWAI, the state government and Paradip and Dhamra ports.

“The IWAI has assessed the development of the Talcher-Dhamra river stretch of National Waterway No. 5 to be economically viable and accordingly has taken steps to develop the project in two phases with a projected cost of around Rs 2,000 crore,” said IWAI chief engineer S. Dandapat.

The central agency will prepare the project proposal within five months from the date of execution of MoU and obtain necessary sanctions for the project. In the next three months, it will initiate action for execution of the project, which will be over within three years.

“The IWAI will initiate the measures for developing the fairway from the budgetary support of the Centre by way of dredging, repairing and reconstructing the weirs, navigational locks and installing navigational aids,” said Dandapat.

The fairway will be developed with a minimum depth of three metres to make it navigable for vessels with 1,500-tonne capacity.

“The state government will provide land free of cost and all possible assistance to fast track the project,” said chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who was present at the MoU-signing ceremony.

The state government will also develop terminal facilities at Pankapal or Jokadia through a joint venture with Paradip Port Trust, and Dhamra Port Company Limited. Paradip and Dhamra ports will develop captive terminal facilities on their premises following which they will operate, maintain and manage the cargo-handling operations.

Paradip Port Trust chairman Sudhanshu Sekhar Mishra said: “The proposed waterway will be economical and environment-friendly and also ease the burden on the existing road and rail transport system.”

Chief executive officer of Dhamra Port Company Limited Santosh Kumar Mohapatra said the waterway would help in enhancing cargo evacuation.


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