India Prime Minister Narendra Modi has inaugurated a new inland port in the north-east city of Varanasi on the Ganges River, as the country looks to make its landlocked regions accessible to world shipping.
It is one of the first of four inland terminals currently under construction on the Ganges River, a proposed trade route that is being dubbed the ‘National Waterway-1,’ (NW-1).
The terminal is part one of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), an initiative to connect India’s rivers to global shipping lanes.
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Partly funded between the Indian government and the World Bank, the JMVP will cost approximately USD $530 million and be finished within six years.
In a major boost to port-led development and harnessing our Jal Shakti for India's growth, an inland waterways terminal will be inaugurated in Varanasi tomorrow. pic.twitter.com/mGMuyPejUe
— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) November 11, 2018
In a ceremony opening the new terminal, Modi was quoted on Indian broadcast network NDTV. He said: “This is a historic day for Varanasi and India.
“For the first time since Independence, we are using our extensive river network for commerce at this scale.
“It should have happened decades ago but we have finally made it happen now.”
Following the ceremony, Modi watched with Indian Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari as the inland waterway received its first container vessel, which began its journey in Kolkata on October 30.