With the inauguration of the inland port in Varanasi, India just flagged off its first inland cargo vessel from Kolkata as was docked at the newly inaugurated Varanasi port.

The Indian government came up with the idea of promoting inland waterways travelling and built the inland port in Varanasi that was inaugurated by PM Modi on Monday. The inland waterway is developed in the Ganga River and will stretch all the way from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal for navigation of large vessels in river water. The government has developed this country’s first inland waterways terminal as a part of the World Bank aided Jal Marg Vikas project dubbed as “the National Waterways-1” by Inland Waterways Authority of India.

The Rs 2,400 crore worth Varanasi inland port received India’s first inland cargo vessel that has sailed in the Ganges all the way from Kolkata on the inland waterway since October 30. The consignment was filled with 16 containers, which is the equivalent of 16 truckloads of food and beverages sent by PepsiCo India. Now, the vessel is preparing to make its return trip on the same route, carrying fertilisers sent by IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.

This was the first time after Independence that an inland cargo vessel travelled within the country using river water in India. And the multi-modal Varanasi inland port is first of its kind in the country, connecting all rail, road and waterways connectivity – and provides a 1390 km long waterway. This new national waterway has multiple benefits like – cutting down the handling cost, allows easier modal shift, reduces pilferage and damage, and also cuts down the carbon footprint generated by road our rail transport – making it an economy and eco-friendly medium of transportation.