The government has asked the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to develop so-called freight villages, a concept borrowed from European countries. The state-run IWAI will also provide inland waterways connectivity to these logistic hubs.
A freight village is an area where all activities relating to transport, logistics and the distribution of goods both for national and international transit are carried out by various operators. The concept has been widely used in European countries and (is) completely new to Asia. In fact, India will be the first country in Asia to come up with a freight village.
The first of such freight village in being planned at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh. The village will provide connectivity through all three modes of transportation. Road, rail connectivity through Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor, and water connectivity through the country’s longest waterway NW1.
Another freight village is also coming up at Sahibganj in Jharkhand.
IWAI is acquiring extra land of around 100 acres along the multimodal terminals of Varanasi and Sahibganj. Private sector would be asked to establish their units where they can manufacture, pack and export or transport their products. It will reduce last-mile connectivity cost substantially.
A German firm has been as to design vessels especially for Indian inland waterways and they have come up with 13 designs, which can run in low draft and have high carrying capacity.
These designed vessels can carry up to 2,000 tonnes of cargo, which is equivalent to 140 trucks or a full railway rake. These designs have been tested and cost around Rs 15crore (in total).
IWAI will give full stretches of 100km and above for dredging for 5 to 7 years where the private company will be responsible for maintaining 3 metre depth and 45 metre width of river.
If the vessels cannot pass, then no payment to the contractor. The first such project worth Rs150 crore has been awarded to Adani Ports and SEZ. Besides the inland waterways vessels will be running on methanol, so that it is environment-friendly.