Maersk to move containers on river Ganga
11 February 2019
World’s largest container shipping company Maersk Line will move 16 containers on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) from Varanasi to Kolkata tomorrow. The firm is the first among several big firms ready to use India’s inland waterways.
Maersk moves 12 million containers yearly across the globe.
Maersk move to transport containers on river Ganga follows similar moves by firms like PepsiCo, Emami Agrotech, IFFCO Fertilizers and Dabur India. With Maersk on board, the cargo from the hinterland will move directly to and from Bangladesh and rest of the world through Bay of Bengal.
On 12 November 2018, Prime Minister Narendra Modi dedicated India’s first riverine multimodal terminal on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) at Varanasi to the nation. On the same day, he also received country’s first container cargo that travelled on river Ganga (National Waterway-1) from Kolkata to Varanasi. The twin events marked watershed moments in the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) in India and also broke grounds for a spurt in business activities on National Waterway-1.
Container cargo transport comes with several inherent advantages. Even as it reduces the handling cost, allows easier modal shift, reduces pilferages and damage, it also enables cargo owners to reduce their carbon footprints.
The government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under JMVP from Haldia to Varanasi (1,390 km) with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs5,369 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT.
Union minister for shipping Nitin Gadkari had flagged off a consignment of Maruti cars from Varanasi to Haldia in August 2016. Since then pilot movements on National Waterways are currently being done on various stretches. More than 15 of them have already been successfully completed, including integrated movements through NW-1 (Ganga), Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and NW-2 (Brahmaputra).