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GoI, West Bengal & World Bank sign USD 105 Million Project to improve Waterways in West Bengal

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World Bank signs $105 million projectOn January 5, 2021, Government of India (GoI), Government of West Bengal (WB)& World Bank signed USD 105 Million Project (approximately  INR 767 Crores) for the West Bengal Inland Water Transport, Logistics and Spatial Development Project.  The Loan for the project is provided by International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD).

The agreement was signed by Dr C S Mohapatra, Additional Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, Ministry of Finance on behalf of Government of India  &  Rajdeep Dutta, Deputy Resident Commissioner on behalf of Government of WB & Mr Junaid Ahmad, Country Director on behalf of World Bank.

Objective of the Project:

i.To improve inland water transport infrastructure in Kolkata, West Bengal.

ii.Improve Efficiency & safety of passenger & freight movement across the Hooghly River.

iii.Establish a spatial planning framework to enhance accessibility within Kolkata Metropolitan Area.

Key Points:

i.The Loan will have a maturity of 17 years including a grace period of 7 years.

ii.The project will connect 5 districts of Southern West Bengal with markets & Job Centers including Kolkata’s Metropolitan Area (KMA) where around 30 Million people or one-third of West Bengal’s population live.

iii.The project aims to develop KMA as a transport & logistics hub for the sub-region by using the Eastern Dedicated Freight Corridor (EDFC) &   connecting to North-East & land-locked countries of Nepal & Bhutan.

iv.The ferry transport will also decongest Kolkata’s three bridges, as 80% of Freight and passenger traffic use these  bridges to cross the Hooghly river.

v.The existing ferry system caters to less than 2% of passenger traffic and a small portion of freight movement.

Project Implementation:

The Project is set to implemented in 2 phases:

Phase-I: 

i.Enhance the capacity and improve the safety of Inland Water Transport system

ii.Restore existing ferries, buying new ferries with enhanced design

iii.Install electronic gates in 40 locations.

Phase-II:

i.Support Long-term investments for passenger movements, including terminals & jetties.

ii.Improve design of inland water transport vessels.

iii.Ensure night navigation & encourage private sector to invest in Ro-Ro vessels to facilitate easy movement of trucks across the Hooghly river.

Facilities:

i.To cope with flooding, precipitation, climate-smart engineering solutions will be applied.

ii.The project will also facilitate disable-friendly amenities, ensure women’s safety & encourage women’s employment in the Inland Water Transport (IWT) Department as well as with the ferry operators.

Recent Related News:

i.July 17, 2020, NABARD sanctioned Rs 795 crore to West Bengal to reconstruct infrastructure which was damaged by Cyclone Amphan(May) under Rural Infrastructure Development Fund (RIDF).

About World Bank:
Headquarters- Washington, D.C., United States
President- David R. Malpass

About West Bengal:
Chief Minister – Mamata Banerjee
Governor – Jagdeep Dhankhar