The Inland Waterway Authority of India in Delhi instructed Wednesday (February 1) UNICONSULT and Hamburg Port Consulting (HPC), subsidiaries of Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA), to find ways of moving transport to inland waterways following an initial study. The move is part of India’s efforts to overhaul the sub-continent’s infrastructure and help meet the demands of rapid economic growth in recent years.
Pilot project on key waterway
“Compared to other countries, India has previously made little use of the opportunities offered by inland shipping,” said Hartmut Beyer, Managing Director of UNICONSULT, adding, “The Indian government wants to change this, as it has recognised that this mode of transport offers ecological benefits and can alleviate pressure on the road and rail networks.”
The National Waterway 1 has been identified as particularly suitable for a pilot project. The waterway is India’s most important and is part of the Baghirati-Ganges river system. At present, only around 5.5 million tonnes of bulk cargo are transported on inland water vessels there. By comparison, some 190 million tonnes were transported on the Rhine in 2015, albeit the river is far better adapted to inland shipping.
Keen interest in market
“Over the past 18 months, we have examined how the waterway system can be improved so that the specific features of inland shipping can be better harnessed,” said Beyer. UNICONSULT wants to move prestigious transports to inland water vessels by late 2017 and will work with a local, expert firm to bring together forwarders and inland shipping companies. Support is needed for waterborne freight traffic, which is still new to India. Frank Busse, Team Leader at UNICONSULT, has expressed optimism: “In the first phase of the project, we sensed considerable interest within the market, and the expansion of the Indian transport network is being closely followed at a political level.”
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