Of India's 1st national waterway....

The country's first national waterway , NW-1, from Haldia to Allahabad was notified in October 1986 and commercial transport of coal on Haldia-Farakka stretch started in 2013. But it is only now that the NDA government is moving forward to develop waterways, as it launched its first trial of cargo transport carrying 200 newly assembled Maruti cars and another 1,000 tonnes building material from Varanasi to Kolkata.
And this too within two years of announcing the Jal Marg Vikas scheme to enable commercial navigation of vessels. The government's blueprint to promote “pilgrimage through cruises“ mainly focuses on hubs of religious tourism. Out of the seven major identified hubs, five --Varanasi, Allahabad, Bhagalpur, Patna and Kolkata are located close to Ganga. “It will take nearly a week for the two cargo vessels to reach Kolkata. The two vessels will also pick up more cargo on their way . People are interested, but what we need is to demonstrate how it's viable and they get assured service,“ said Prabir Pandey of Inland Waterways Authority of India, which is responsible for developing the stretches.
Shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said that many even within the government had doubts whether such a mammoth task can become a reality . He added the holy river can become a stretch of major economic activities like a highway stretch without harming the ecology and environment. Government has decided to use liquefied natural gas (LNG) as the main fuel for water transport.
“Don't think I am selling dreams when I talk about cruises and marinas plying on the Ganga. I promise what I can do. Earlier I had talked about introducing a bus that can ply in water and on road as well. You can come to Mumbai to experience this soon,“ the minister had said while addressing a public gathering in Varanasi.
Gadkari even told the crowd that he would use a “sea plane“ to reach Varanasi when he visits the holy city next time. “At least 10 cities along the Ganga can start passenger ferries to reduce congestion on roads. More use of waterways will bring this sector to focus and transportation through waterways will bring down logistics costs from 18% to 12%,“ he said.

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