Multi-modal Terminal at Varanasi to be major Logistic Hub on DFC Routes

The ongoing construction of the Varanasi terminal that will have waterway, rail and road connectivity is part of the government’s Rs 5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).

VARANASI: The Rs 170-crore multi-modal terminal at Varanasi is set to emerge as a major logistics gateway connecting north India to the eastern and north-eastern states, extending up to Bangladesh, says the Shipping Ministry.

The ongoing construction of the Varanasi terminal that will have waterway, rail and road connectivity is part of the government’s Rs 5,369 crore Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP).

“Government is working hard to bring down the huge logistics costs in the country and the project is part of that initiative,” said Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari.

The terminal will help correct India’s transport modal mix that imposes huge logistics cost on the economy, he said.

At 15 per cent of GDP, the logistics costs in India are about twice in the US, as per the Ministry officials. The work on the upcoming terminal at Varanasi – part of JMVP, being implemented by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), under the Ministry of Shipping was awarded to AFCONS Infrastructure in May last year.

As part of ambitious plan to develop waterways and make the Ganga river navigable, Gadkari had laid the foundation stone of multi-modal terminal at Varanasi in August 2016.

“Multimodal hub with rail, road and waterways connectivity will take the state to growth trajectory,” Gadkari had said, adding that the phase 1 of the multi-modal terminal would be ready by August 2018.

Elaborating on the Varanasi project, DFCC Managing Director Adesh Sharma earlier quoted saying that the ‘first of its kind’ logistics hubs will connect inland waterways with rail and road to provide hassle-free, efficient and cost effective cargo movement.

After completion the cargo that will be handled includes stone chips, cement, food grains, fertilisers, sugar, etc.

The terminal will have road and rail connectivity with proposed links on NH-7 and Jeonathpur railway station, respectively. It will have facilities such as berthing space for two vessels simultaneously, storage area, transit shed, parking areas, among others.

The Varanasi terminal with 0.54 million tons per annum of cargo handling capacity in Phase 1, will complement the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) project, enabling movement of cargo from Ludhiana in Punjab to Haldia in West Bengal and further east, said an official at the Ministry.

“With the cost of transportation by waterways being 30-50 paisa per tonne per km (PTPK) only, compared to Rs 1 PTPK for rail, and Rs 1.5 PTPK for road, various government and private entities have already shown interest in transporting their cargo using the facility,” the official added.

NW-1, along with proposed EDFC and NH-2, constitutes the Eastern Transport Corridor of India connecting the National Capital Region (NCR) with the eastern and north-eastern states and will function as a link to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Nepal and other east and south-east Asian countries through the Kolkata Port and Indo- Bangladesh Protocol Route.

Currently, a large portion of cargo from north India is transported to the ports of Kandla and Mumbai through land routes at high cost, and there is much reluctance of the shippers to transport the cargo to the eastern ports of Kolkata, Dhamra, and Paradip.

Apart from the one at Varanasi, four more multi-modal logistics parks along the dedicated freight corridor to facilitate seamless movement of goods. These logistics hubs, expected to cost around INR 5000 crore, are expected to be set up in Gujarat, Punjab, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra.

The logistics parks would facilitate the last mile connectivity in terms of door-to-door services for customers besides giving value addition including packaging, retailing, labelling and transportation of the goods on the dedicated tracks.

Sharma said various options such as the PPP route, state government participation and debt equity are being explored to develop logistics parks.