World Bank’s 105 million USD loan to improve Waterways in West Bengal

The World bank, Government of India and Government of West Bengal recently signed a 105 million US the agreement. The fund has been allocated to the West Bengal inland water transport, logistics and special development project.

What are the key features of the agreement?

  • According to the agreement the one hundred and five million USD fund is to be used to improve the inland water transport infrastructure in Kolkata, West Bengal.
  • With the help of the allocated fund the West Bengal inland water transport, logistics and special development project will facilitate freight and passenger Movement in the Hooghly river.
  • The project will also undertake a spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area.
  • The project will enhance the quality of life of the residents through inexpensive waterways and increased connectivity.
  • It will contribute to the growth of the logistics sector of West Bengal.

What is West Bengal inland water transport, logistics and special development project?

  • During the first phase the project will enhance the the capacity of Inland water transport system. This includes rehabilitating existing jetties, installing electronic Gates and buying new ferries.
  • During the second phase the project, it will support long term investments for passenger movements. Also, it will improve the design of Inland water transport vessels and ensure night navigation on the most trafficked and hazardous routes. It will encourage the private sector to invest in Ro-Ro vessels to facilitate easier movement of trucks across the Hooghly river.

What are the benefits of the project?

The Hooghly river is a distributary of river Ganga. It separates the Kolkata port, from its large consumption centres, that is, the vast hinterland comprising of the two landlocked neighbouring countries such as Nepal and Bhutan and the entire North East. Therefore, it is essential to increase the water way transport on Hooghly river. More than 80% of passenger and freight traffic currently cross the river.

Why is the project needed?

Currently the Kolkata city has restricted the movement of trucks to the port through the bridges and for limited hours. This reduces the access to the port and increases cost of logistics. The ferries of West Bengal provide efficient, flexible mode of transport to both freight and the passengers. They also save operating costs and travel time as compared to the road Journeys. However, the ferry system currently caters to only 2% of passenger traffic and very small portion of freight movement. The project will increase the number of ferries operating and will also increase the waterway connectivity.

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