Since January, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has identified and fast-tracked the implementation of key projects in the National Waterways – 1, 2 and 3 (NW – 1,2,3). These are the Varanasi- Haldia stretch of the Ganga (NW-1), the Brahmaputra in Assam (NW-2) and the inland stretch in Kerala (NW-3). Based on the push by PMO, IWAI has moved forward on large scale private investments to transport coal and fertilizer on NW-1, foodgrains and coal on NW-2 and a lot of cargo on NW-3.
In order to scale up private investment further, a Committee has now been constituted a Committee under Secretary (Planning) with Secretary (Shipping), DG (IWAI) and a representative of DEA as members. This Committee would undertake a systematic effort to identify new areas for private investment, both in infrastructure and in transportation. It will also identify multiple business models which could then be bid out through concessions. This will be supplemented by designing Model Concession Agreements and other standardised documents for facilitating a rapid scaling up of investment.
The potential of Inland Waterways is quite large, if it can be properly conceived and captured. The Rhine and the Danube are lifelines of transport in Europe. And there is no reason why the Allahabad – Haldia stretch (National Waterway – 1) cannot be a river based industrial corridor.