The Indian government, the government of West Bengal and the World Bank on Tuesday signed a $ 105 million project to improve river transport infrastructure in Kolkata, West Bengal, according to the finance ministry.
The West Bengal River Transport, Logistics and Space Development Project will facilitate the movement of passengers and goods on the Hooghly River; undertake spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata metropolitan area; improve the quality of life of its inhabitants and contribute to the growth of the State’s logistics sector.
Dr CS Mohapatra Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance said that “Inland waterways are now emerging as a cost-effective and environmentally friendly option for the movement of passengers and goods. This project will help improve the river transport infrastructure in West Bengal and aid the economic development of the state by linking the hinterland to markets and employment centers in the Kolkata metropolitan area. “
The agreement was signed by Dr CS Mohapatra, Assistant Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of the Government of India; Shri Rajdeep Dutta, Deputy Resident Commissioner, on behalf of the Government of West Bengal; and Mr. Junaid Ahmad, Country Director, India, on behalf of the World Bank.
The project will cover the five most populous districts of South West Bengal, including its metropolitan area – the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA) where approximately 30 million people or one-third of the population of West Bengal live.
“This operation will allow the state to invest in the economic productivity of Calcutta by integrating its waterways and ferry services into an efficient and safe urban mobility strategy,” said Junaid Ahmad, country director of the World Bank in India.
“It is important to note that, given Kolkata’s strategic location, the project also ensures that the metropolitan area becomes a transportation and logistics hub for the sub-region, leveraging the EDFC and connecting to the northeast and the landlocked countries of Nepal and Bhutan. ,” he added.
The Hooghly River, a defluent of the Ganga River, in Calcutta separates the port of Calcutta from its major consumption centers, its wholesale market and its vast hinterland including, among others, all of northeastern India and two neighboring landlocked countries namely, Nepal and Bhutan.
West Bengal ferries can provide an efficient and flexible mode of public transport for passengers and freight, saving on operating costs and journey time compared to road trips.
In the first phase, the project will strengthen the capacity and improve the safety of the river transport system; including rehabilitation of existing jetties, purchase of new ferries with improved design; and the installation of electronic portals in 40 locations.
In the second phase, it will support long-term investments for passenger movements, including in terminals and jetties; improve the design of river transport vessels; ensure night navigation on the most dangerous and busy roads and crossing points, and encourage the private sector to invest in ro-ro ships which will facilitate the movement of trucks on the Hooghly River.
The $ 105 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) has a term of 17 years, including a grace period of seven years.
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