World Bank signs 105 million USD project to improve West Bengal waterways

The West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics, and Spatial Development Project will ease passenger and freight movement across the state’s Hooghly River.

Jan 6, 2021 18:08 ISTModified On: Jan 6, 2021 18:08 IST
Project for West Bengal Waterways

The Indian government, the Government of West Bengal, and the World Bank on January 6, 2021, signed a project of USD 105 million for improving the inland water transport infrastructure in West Bengal.

The agreement was signed on behalf of the Indian government by Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Dr. CS Mohapatra, on behalf of West Bengal government by Deputy Resident Commissioner, Shri Rajdeep Dutta, and on behalf of World Bank, Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India.

The project for improving the West Bengal waterways will be covering the five most populous districts of Southern West Bengal, including the Kolkata Metropolitan Area, where 30 million or around one-third of the state’s population resides. The loan of USD 105 million has a maturity period of 17 years. It includes a grace period of 7 years.

Significance:

•  As the inland waterways have now been emerging as an environmental friendly and cost-effective option for freight movement and passengers, the project will help in improving the river transport infrastructure in the state.

•  It will also help in the economic development of West Bengal as it will connect the hinterland with job centres and markets in the Metropolitan area of Kolkata.

•  The West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics, and Spatial Development Project will ease passenger and freight movement across the state’s Hooghly River.

•  It will undertake spatial planning for improving accessibility in the Kolkata Metropolitan area, which will contribute to the growth of the logistics sector of the state.

•  The project will also enhance the quality of life of its residents.

How the project will help the state’s economic productivity and connectivity?

According to Junaid Ahmad, Country Director of World Bank in India, the project will allow West Bengal to invest in the economic productivity of Kolkata by making its ferry services and waterways part of a safe urban mobility strategy.

He added that given Kolkata’s strategic location, this operation will also be ensuring that the metropolitan area emerges as a logistics and transport hub for the sub-region. It will be connecting to the North-East and the land-locked countries of Bhutan and Nepal.

Details of the project:

•  In its first phase, the project will be improving the safety and enhancing the capacity of the Inland Water Transport System. It will include buying new ferries with enhanced designs, rehabilitating existing jetties, and installing electronic gates in 40 locations.

•  In its second phase, the project will be supporting the long-term investments for the movements of passengers, which will include terminals and jetties.

•  Under the second phase, the design of the inland water transport will be improved, night navigation will be ensured at the most trafficked and hazardous routes.

•  The private sector will also be encouraged to invest in Ro-Ro vessels under the second phase. The vessels will also allow easier movement of trucks across the Hooghly river.

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