The Ganga – Bhagirathi – Hooghly river system of the National Waterway – 1 is one of the most important national waterways located in India which runs across the three rivers Ganga, Bhagirathi and Hooghly between the states of West Bengal (Kolkata) and Uttar Pradesh (Varanasi). This waterway actually passes through four states i.e. West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. While crossing these states, this waterway serves various cities and industrial areas such as Kolkata, Haldia, Ghazipur, Patna, Allahabad, Varanasi, Munger, Bhagalpur and Howrah. This national waterway is the longest waterway in India and it stretches around 1,620 km.
The Government of India has developed the National Waterway – 1 by taking technical as well as financial assistance from the World Bank which has given an amount of US$50 million for the maintenance of this waterway. This waterway is a major cargo route for transferring of petroleum products, crude oil, timber, agricultural products, manganese products and many other bulky items between the four Indian states. The navigation of various commercial vehicles with around 1500 – 2000 ton capacities has also been facilitated in this route. The overall development of this national waterway would boost the economic development of the states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The Varanasi multi – modal terminal was constructed in Uttar Pradesh alongside this waterway on August, 2016 which has various facilities like storage areas, parking areas, transit sheds and other facilities for handling of heavy cargo items as well as transportation of passengers too. The construction of this terminal helped in generating thousands of jobs in the state. Moreover, a proposal has also been made for the construction of two terminals at Gaighat and Kalughat in Patna under the scheme of Jal Marg Vikas Project. This would also help in generating direct as well as indirect employment opportunities for many people in Bihar. Another multi – modal terminal has been proposed to be constructed in Haldia under the Jal Marg Vikas Project on the National Waterway – 1 which would enable the transportation of cargo between the state of West Bengal and the North –eastern states of India. This would help in building better connections between West Bengal and the North – eastern states and it would also help in generating huge amount of employment opportunities in all these states. It is known that the state of Jharkhand is very rich in terms of coal production. Thus, it has been proposed that a multi – modal terminal would be built at Sahibganj along this waterway for transporting the domestic coal from the local mines of the state to the thermal power plants. So, these are some of the benefits that would be inflicted upon the four states as a result of the development of the National Waterway – 1.
Recently on 30th October, 2018, India’s first inland waterway cargo container movement was flagged off from Kolkata to Varanasi on the National Waterway – 1 by Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources. Altogether 16 containers were being shipped consisting of food and other snacks by the company PepsiCo India. This marked a great development in the inland waterways of India which kick started with the development of the National Waterway – 1. Thus, it can also be said that the development of this waterway would lead to an overall economic development of the country too.
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