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New Delhi : Union Ports, Shipping & Waterways and  AYUSH Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on February 16, 2022, flagged off the maiden voyage of barges with a consignment of 1798 MT of finished steel products of Tata Steel Limited from Haldia to Pandu ( in Assam) through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBP Route) in the presence of Shantanu Thakur,  MoS for Ports, Shipping and Waterways. On return leg, the barges will load coal provided by Fuel Sources India Pvt. Ltd. where LSC Solutions is providing ground logistic support along with last mile delivery, and is destined for unloading at Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port (SMPK), Kolkata.

This maiden voyage showcases multimodal movement of cargo along with harnessing of the power of river – sea combination. The consignment of steel products of Tata Steel Ltd. arrived at Haldia Dock Complex through the Railway mode; loaded on to barges [DB ABDUL KALAM and DB KALPANA CHAWLA chartered by SMPK] at berth no. 11 operated by TMILL who have organised movement of the cargo and loading at their berth. Ocean Whale Services will operate the barges for the voyage. Customs have given special permission to move this cargo on this route on priority.

The Government envisages to leverage the inland waterways and establish synergy with the ports for robust Multi-Modal logistics chain. Further, to improve the connectivity through waterways, Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways (MoPSW) has taken up several infrastructure projects on National Waterways-1, Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route and NW-2 (River Brahmaputra) through the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

An MoU was also entered into between M/s. Brahmaputra Cracker & Polymer Limited (BCPL), a Central Govt. Public Sector Enterprise under the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas, Govt. of India, and Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata, for developing a streamlined logistics chain for movement of feed stock like Naptha, Propane, Pentane etc. required for BCPL’s Petrochemical Complex at Lepetkata (situated about 15 km from Dibrugarh in Assam) from Haldia Dock Complex through rail and/or coastal shipping. In the reverse leg, finished products and by-products will be routed for distribution through the Port for consumption of both domestic and international market.

Both parties have agreed to work together for handling increased volumes of Naptha, Propane, Pentane etc. at SMPK. The port has agreed in principle for extending the required facilities and infrastructure to BCPL including land, railway sidings etc. on mutually agreed terms and conditions, as per government policy guidelines, according to a PIB release.