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Sarbananda Sonowal inaugurates key IWT Terminal and Jetties, boosting Bihar’s Connectivity

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PATNA : Marked a significant moment in Bihar’s transportation landscape as Shri Sarbananda Sonowal, Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW), inaugurated the Kalughat IWT Terminal and two community jetties in Bettiah, Bihar. The ceremony was graced by Shri Vijay Kumar Sinha, Deputy Chief Minister, Bihar; Shri Rajiv Pratap Rudy, Member of Parliament, along with key officials from both central and state governments.

Kalughat, strategically located on the north bank of the River Ganga in Bihar’s Saran District, emerges as a vital nexus in the region’s transportation network. With its direct access to NH-19, the terminal serves as a pivotal link for cargo movement, particularly for Nepal-bound shipments via Raxaul and the hinterland of North Bihar. Constructed at a cost of Rs. 82.48 Crore, the terminal’s infrastructure includes a 125m x 30m berth with a capacity of 77,000 TEUs annually. The Kalughat Terminal will have direct road connectivity with NH-19 and is at a critical location for transportation of cargo originating or destined for hinterland of North Bihar.

During the inauguration ceremony Shri Sonowal said, “in the last 10 years, four Multi-Modal Terminals have been developed on National Waterways which include MMT Varanasi, Sahibganj, Haldia and Kalughat. Three of our neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Bhutan and Myanmar have been connected by waterways leading to increase in regional trade. The projects worth Rs. 86 Crore inaugurated today will usher in all-round economic prosperity to the riverine community of Bihar through enhanced and smoother transportation of goods and passengers”.

Moreover, floating pontoon jetties at Mangalpur and Bettiah on the river Gandak have been established to connect Nepal and India via NW-37, representing an investment of Rs. 3.33 crore. These jetties will significantly enhance market access for producers of various goods, fostering economic exchange and growth in the region.

‘These projects mark a significant milestone in Bihar’s transportation infrastructure and reaffirm the commitment to leveraging the potential of inland waterways for inclusive growth and development’, added the Minister.

It is to be noted that, as a part of Jal Marg Vikas Project, IWAI initiated the development of the IWT ecosystem for NW-1 through construction of Multimodal Terminals (MMTs) and Intermodal Terminals (IMTs) for cargo handling along with construction of navigational locks, carrying out fairway development for uninterrupted navigation, provision of night navigation and RIS facilities. The government has been undertaking various measures to develop National Waterways as a viable, thriving mode of transport, especially for cargo, to reduce logistics costs and make Indian industry.  The Number of operational waterways has increased to 23 from 05 in 2014. The cargo movement on National Waterways has increased significantly to 126.15 Million-ton from April 2022- March 2023 against 108.79 Million-ton last year for the same period, recording 16 % growth.

The Sagarmala programme of the Ministry Ports, Shipping and Waterways is harnessing 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways. To unlock the potential of Waterways under Sagarmala Programme includes declaration of 111 (5 existing and 106 new) National Waterways (NWs) under the National Waterways Act, 2016. NW-I in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal; NW-2 in Assam; NW-3 in Kerala, have already been developed with fairway navigational aids, jetties and terminals with mechanised equipment handling facilities for loading of cargo. These waterways are operational and vessels are plying on them. In addition, NW-10 (river Amba), NW-68(river Mandovi), NW-73 (river Narmada), NW-83(Rajpuri Creek), NW-85 (Revadanda Creek- Kundalikariver system), NW-91 (Shastri river- Jaigad creek system), NW-97 (Sunderbans Waterways), NW-100 (river Tapti) and NW-111(river Zuari) are operational.

As part of the comprehensive Maritime India Vision (MIV)-2030, the Government has outlined ambitious plans to elevate the share of Inland Water Transport (IWT) to 5%. The Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 aims to operationalize 50 waterways by 2047, facilitating efficient transportation networks nationwide.

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