Govt finalises standards for vessels to ply on domestic water bodies

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In a move that would open the doors for international maritime players to tap the domestic market, the Union government has finalised standards for vessels to ply on water bodies in this country.

This has been done in consultation with a German firm, for 13 categories of vessels, including bulk carriers, container cargo vessels and vehicle carriers.

“One of the factors that has been given paramount importance while finalising these designs is safety,” a senior official told Business Standard. The German firm in question, he said, was one of the best designers in the world for the job.

Standardisation would allow companies to build and supply ships within the specifications. Earlier, there was no such framework that governed the plying of vessels in domestic waterbodies.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), a central government entity, would also procure some vessels via the tender route, based on the designs.

After its experience in tendering for road highway contracts on the EPC (engineering, procurement, construction) mode, the central government intends to do so for waterways, too. Larsen & Toubro, Adani and Afcons are among the companies which have shown interest in bidding for these contracts — establishing of cargo terminals, jetties, dredging, etc. Typically, IWAI would give out a 100-150 km stretch in each such contract.

IWAI is the implementing agency for the Jal Marg Vikas Project, a scheme approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs this January. It involves capacity augmentation for navigation on National Waterway-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly) at a cost of nearly Rs 53.7 billion, with World Bank support.

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