Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: To tap the potential for smooth cargo movement along the river system, hydrographic survey of Mahanadi River, which converges with seawater in Bay of Bengal, has got underway ahead of the commissioning of national waterways project.

In a lead up to the national waterways project in Odisha, hydrographic survey of the Mahanadi is in full swing. A vessel has been pressed into service to the river near Paradip to assess the navigational aspect. The survey which is being carried along 5 KM stretch of the major river, is scientifically investigating features like navigation, the depth of the water-body and the current velocity of water during high tide and low tide, said an official of national waterways project, Odisha.

Prior to the navigational experiment in Paradip, the cargo vessel (MV Lal Bahadur Sastri) had been deployed from Dhamra in Bhadrak district to Rajnagar in Kendrapara district to gauge the depth of river water and ascertain the possible enroute hindrances. The said stretch of waterway is was an identified tidal zone. The vessel which was bereft of cargoes had an unhindered and hassle-free movement across the tide infested river”, said Abinash Roul, Deputy Project Director, Inland Waterways Authority of India (Odisha chapter).

Earlier on June 2014, Odisha government has inked an MOU (memorandum of understanding) with Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Paradip Port Trust (PPT) and Dhamra Port Company Limited (DPCL) to put in place the national waterway No-5.

The waterway would stretch from the Talcher-Kalinga Nagar- Dhamra-Paradip stretch covering 588 KM stretch including coal belt of Talcher and port hubs like Paradip and Dhamra. Of the 588 KM long waterways-5, nearly 323 KM stretch from Talcher coal belt to Paradip and Dhamra has been identified as economically viable waterway zone, said officials.

In the first phase of construction work of the national waterway, dredging work of the riverbed in the non-tidal zones has already commenced. 36-KM stretch non-tidal zone from Padanipal in Kendrapara district to Erada in Jajpur district has been taken up for intensive dredging. It is being ensured to maintain 2.5-3 metre depth and 45 metre width of the river. Once the dredging work is over, the widening of narrow canal and construction of check dams and barrages would be undertaken for uniform inflow and depth of water, IWAI official said.

Significantly, the IWAI has assessed this stretch of National Waterway No. 5 to be most economically viable in India. The inland waterways stretch, once developed, will facilitate movement of cargo like coal, iron ore, steel and other products etc. Official sources said that the first phase of the project will comprise of 201km stretch between Kalinga Nagar-Dhamra-Paradip port and the second phase consists of 131 km stretch between Talcher and Kalinga Nagar.

A large number of industries and coal companies could reap benefit if the waterways-5 comes up. The project would be environment-friendly and pollution-free, said an official.

Coal, coke, fertilizer, cement, mineral iron, steel and aluminium are important cargo to be transported through this proposed national waterway. Besides, agricultural produce like paddy, rice, straw, animal feed, fodder, jute, coconut, fish products, house building materials, finished products, cruise parties for tourism will also add to the traffic.