A barge with 52 containers of edible oil belonging to the Fortune brand of Adani Wilmar on Tuesday began its voyage from Haldia to Patna on the Hooghly, marking the formal start of such cargo trips along the river.
The trips are part of the World Bank-aided ‘Jal Marg Vikas Project’ of the Inland Waterways Authority of India. The Centre’s Jal Marg Vikas Project aims to develop the stretch of the river between Varanasi and Haldia for large vessels weighing up to 2,000 tonnes.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi had in November last year inaugurated India’s first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi and received the country’s first container cargo transported on inland waterways from Calcutta.
“Today is a historic day for the Haldia Dock Complex because it is the first barge movement of containers on inland water transport from here. It is cost-effective and eco-friendly,” deputy chairman of the Calcutta Port Trust, G. Senthilvel, said.
Port officials said the barge would take five days to reach Patna, covering a distance of 922km.
According to the officials, the height of the barge had been kept low as it would have to pass under several bridges, including the one at Howrah.
“The barge will pass under the bridges during low tide,” said an official.
Another official said four jetties were being built at Durgachak, close to the Haldia port, in the hope that there would be more consignments in the future.
“We have been trying to start riverine shipping for a while because it is cost-effective and will benefit many industries. We are glad to have started it today. We are still calculating the cost-effectiveness,” said Anil Singh, chief executive officer of Adani Inland Waterways. The barge that carried the 52 containers belongs to the Adani firm.
A weekly barge service is planned. “If this run is successful, we will send another barge to Varanasi within 15 days,” said a port official.