Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched India’s first fluvial multimodal terminal on the holy river Ganga also known as National Waterway-1 at Varanasi on 12 November 2018. On that very day, the nation’s first container cargo travelled on River Ganga (National Waterway-1) from Kolkata to Kashi (Varanasi). In India, the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) and the business activities that kick-started on the National Waterway 1 marked the beginning of the two critical events at Varanasi.
The importance of container cargo is that it lessens the handling charges, allows easy shifting, reduces damages and also lessen down the carbon footprints by the owners. Under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, the government developed the National Waterway-1 (Ganga River) en route Haldia to Varanasi with the practical and financial help of the World Bank around a total cost of ₹5369 crore. Commercial navigation with a range of 1500 to 2000 DWT is also possible via initiation of this project.
An import of Maruti cars from Varanasi to Haldia was launched by Union Minister of shipping Nitin Gadkari on August 2016. The pilot movements are under surveillance, and more than 15 among them have been successful in moving outside their area through NW-1 (Ganga) and NH-2(Brahmaputra).
On 15 February, Maersk Line: The World’s largest container shipping company was in transit at NH-1 (River Ganga) that carried more than 16 containers from Varanasi to Kolkata. The movement of Maersk around the globe is 12 million containers yearly. This movement is the same as that of PepsiCo, Emami Agrotech, IFFCO Fertilizers, Dabur India and many more.
This is the first time when Maersk slipped into India’s Inland Waterways. With Maersk on-board, it will move directly from and to Bangladesh and other parts of the world via the Bay of Bengal.