'Sittwe Port in Myanmar is ready for operations'
Kolkata : Sittwe Port in Myanmar, being administered by the Ministry of External Affairs under the Kaladan Multi-Modal Transit Transport Project to facilitate connectivity between the mainland and the north eastern states of the country is "ready" for operations, an official said on Friday.
A tender will be floated this month or January for appointing an operator for the port and movement of ships is expected in six months, once the operator takes over, the official said.
The project was jointly identified by India and Myanmar to create a multi-modal mode of transport for shipment of cargo from mainland India to Myanmar as well as to the north-eastern part of India through Myanmar.
This project, which will connect Sittwe Port in Myanmar to the India-Myanmar border, is expected to contribute to the economic development of the north-eastern states by opening up the sea route for goods.
"Sittwe Port along with the river port at Paletwa is ready for operations. We are going to float a tender this month or latest by January to appoint an operator. I think movement of ships from the Sittwe Port is expected in about six months, once the operator takes over," Inland Waterways Development Authority's Vice-Chairman Pravir Pandey said.
The project is expected to reduce pressure on the Siliguri Corridor, and since the project is of political and strategic significance, it was decided to execute it through India's grant assistance to Myanmar.
Pandey said waterways transportation currently contributes about 1.8 per cent of the cargo movement, up from 0.5 per cent four to five years ago, and adding it with coastal routes, the waterways' share is around 6 per cent.
About 5.8 million tonnes of cargo was transported on the Ganges river during 2017-18, up from 2 million tonnes in 2011-12.
"We have crossed 6 million tonnes of cargo transportation on the Ganges from April to October and this is expected to touch 8 million tonnes by end of this fiscal," Pandey said at an event of the Bengal Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
According to him, the travel time on National Waterways 1 (NW-I) from Kolkata to Varanasi could be brought down to five days from about eight days, taken in some of the latest cargo movement, only after the night navigation system and river information stations become functional.
The multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj in Jharkhand would be ready by March 2019 and the same at Haldia in West Bengal would be completed by the end of next year.