World Bank Signs $105 Million Project to Improve Waterways in West Bengal
Part of: GS Prelims and GS-II – International Relations & GS-III – Infrastructure
- The Government of India, the Government of West Bengal and the World Bank signed a $105 million project to improve the inland water transport infrastructure in Kolkata, West Bengal.
- The West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics and Spatial Development Project will facilitate: (1) Passenger and freight movement across the Hooghly river; (2) Undertake spatial planning to improve accessibility in the Kolkata Metropolitan Area; (3) Enhance the quality of life of its residents; (4) Contribute to the growth of the state’s logistics sector.
- The Inland waterways are now emerging as a cost effective and an environment friendly option for passenger and freight movement.
- This Project will help improve the river transport infrastructure in West Bengal and help in the economic development of the state by connecting the hinterland with markets and job centers in Kolkata’s Metropolitan Area.
- The project will cover the five most populous districts of southern West Bengal, including its urban agglomeration — the Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA) where around 30 million people or one-third of West Bengal’s population live.
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- In the first phase: The project will enhance the capacity and improve the safety of the Inland Water Transport system including rehabilitating existing jetties, buying new ferries with enhanced design and installing electric gates in 40 locations.
- In the second phase: It will support – (1) Long-term investments for passenger movements, including in terminals and jetties; (2) Improve the design of the inland water transport vessels; (3) Ensure night navigation on the most hazardous and trafficked routes and crossing points; (4) Encourage the private sector to invest in Ro-Ro vessels that will allow easier movement of trucks across the Hooghly river.
- To better cope with increased precipitation and flooding, climate-smart engineering solutions will be applied.
- The project will facilitate disable-friendly amenities, ensure women’s safety and encourage women’s employment.
- The $105 million loan from the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), has a maturity of 17 years, including a grace period of 7 years.
Important value additions
- The Hooghly River is a distributary of the river Ganga in Kolkata.
- It separates the Kolkata port from its large consumption centres, which are, its wholesale market and its vast hinterland comprising among others the entire North Eastern India and two landlocked neighbouring countries namely, Nepal and Bhutan.
- More than 80% of freight and passenger traffic currently cross the river via Kolkata’s three bridges.
- To curtail congestion, the city has restricted the movement of trucks to the port to certain bridges and only during limited hours, reducing access to the port and increasing the cost of logistics.