The Union Minister for Ports, Shipping & Waterways (PSW) and AYUSH, Sarbananda Sonowal flagged off the maiden voyage of steel cargo laden barge from Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Kolkata to Pandu port in Guwahati today. The cargo will move through the Indo Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBRP). The event was also graced by Minister of State for Ports, Shipping & Waterways, Shantanu Thakur.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was also signed between Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (SMPK) and Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymer Limited (BCPL) to set up a streamlined logistics chain for movement of feed stock for petrochemical complex of BCPL at Lepetkata near Dibrugarh in presence of the Union Minister Sarbananda Sonowal and officials of both organisations along with other government officials.
The maiden voyage is transporting a consignment of 1798 tonnes of TMT bars, manufactured by Tata Steel Limited in Jamshedpur. The two barges, named DB ABDUL KALAM and DB KALPANA CHAWLA, are carrying 900 tonnes each. After unloading the consignment at Pandu, the barges will return with industrial coal cargo for discharge at Kolkata Dock System (KDS). The barges will move along National Waterway 1 (river Ganga) onto IBPR and finally, on National Waterway 2 (river Brahmaputra).
The MoU will help set up a streamlined logistic chain for movement of feed stock like Naphtha, Propane, Pentane etc. from Haldia Dock Complex (HDC) for Lepetkata in Dibrugarh. On its return leg, the finished products and by-products are to be routed for distribution through the Port for consumption of both domestic and international market. The project also envisages setting up of tankage facility for storing imported feed stock of BCPL like Naphtha, Propane, Pentane , etc., at Haldia for which HDC, SMPK will provide land and railway connectivity.
Speaking at this historic occasion, the Union Minister, Sarbananda Sonowal said, “Under PM Gati Shakti, the government has envisaged an integrated approach towards communication that is efficient, economical & environment friendly. A synergy between inland waterways and ports is being worked out to serve as a multi modal logistic hub for handling major EXIM & domestic cargo.”
It is to be noted that an interactive meeting chaired by the Union Minister on January 2 this year with all stakeholders inspired this idea and motivated the industry to realise the potential of inland waterways led to this development. This is the first-of–its-kind collaborative initiative whereby a multiple agencies, viz., Tata Steel, the Railways, the Customs authority, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and the operator of barges, ‘Ocean Whale,’ and the SMP Port, to make it a seamless and successful venture.
The Union Minister further added, “We – the people of the east India – are blessed with a well knit arterial network of rivers. We want to use this opportunity and connect the Northeast India with the HDC at SMP, which is already connected by railways, road & inland waterways. This will help us optimise the asset like SMP to realise its full potential & allow the people of Northeast India to unlock the huge economic potential that it possess.”
The Union Minister also inaugurated a water treatment plant with 4 million litre capacity under Green Port initiative. In order to push Ease of Doing business, a Helpdesk and a modern training centre were also inaugurated by the Minister.
Local MLA, Tapasi Mondal; Dr Sanjeev Ranjan, IAS, Secretary, MoPS&W; Sanjay Bandopadhyay, IAS, Chairman, IWAI; Peeyush Gupta, Vice President, Supply Chain, Tata Steel Ltd., Reep Hazarika, MD, BCPL; Ravi Shekawat, Fuel Sources India Pvt. Ltd., as well as representatives from the Customs department, Ocean Whale, BG Samaddar Group also attended the event.