Dalmia Cement, IFFCO set to move cargo on inland waterways
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), which has been tasked to develop 106 national waterways, mainly for cargo movement, is finding traction among industrial goods makers and fertiliser companies.
IWAI is working with Dalmia Cement (Bharat) Ltd on a pilot to move cargo through National Waterways-1 on river Ganga. And Indian Farmers Fertiliser Cooperative Ltd (IFFCO) is likely to start shipping phosphatic fertilisers from next month.
“We are already moving coal for Farakka power plant; Jindal is moving it for 550km. The first pilot of Dalmia Cement has already set off on the Ganga, and it will be reaching Patna on 16 or 17 February. IFFCO should happen by next month, and they want to move cargo for phosphatic fertilisers from Paradip to Berhampur near Farakka,” IWAI chairman Amitabh Verma told InfraCircle.
According to IWAI, its vessel — MV Zakir Hussain — set sail from Haldia to Patna on 5 February with 350 tonne cargo belonging to Dalmia Cement. The company has assured transport of 120,000 tonne cement from its Salboni plant in East Midnapore district of West Bengal to various destinations along NW-1 in Jharkhand and Bihar.
“If this succeeds, we will have a long-term agreement and Dalmia Cement is willing to ship about 110,000 tonne cement per annum on NW-1. There is no such commitment from IFFCO for now but if we do a successful pilot, they will also do a three-year commitment,” Verma said.
The IWAI is developing national waterways under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), announced by the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government in April 2016. The World Bank has been providing financial and technical help of about Rs.5,369 crore for this. JMVP has taken off with projects worth Rs.1,600 crore awarded so far, as reported by InfraCircle on 29 December.
“Apart from Dalmia Cement, other cement companies such as Shree Ultra, Ultratech, Jaypee, Ramco and ACC have also shown interest in transporting cargo on NW-1. We are also in discussion with JVL Agro Industries Ltd but no formal commitment has come yet,” Verma said.
“In terms of automobile transportation, we are looking to get a triple-decker car carrier. Once we get that, we can carry more than 200 cars as it becomes very economically viable. Maruti and Mahindra have evinced interest, among others,” Verma added.
Queries mailed to spokespersons of Dalmia Cement, IFFCO, JVL Agro Industries, Shree Ultra, Ultratech, Jaypee, Ramco and ACC on 14 February remained unanswered.
Experts say, if the companies are successful in implementing this model, transportation costs will fall significantly. “Cost of transportation by water is a fraction of the cost on roads and other means. It also has an added advantage of time as compared to roadways, where truck inspections are time consuming, and the railways, which don’t have adequate connectivity. Key challenges in transportation through waterways include depth of the rivers and consistency of service. If large players like these are going to start captive services and are willing to invest in specific captive terminals along the waterways, they would be able to transport cargo more efficiently,” said Hemant Bhattbhatt, managing partner and head of HMSA, a consultancy.
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