PM flags off MV Ganga Vilas, world’s longest river cruise

Lays foundation stones and inaugurates other inland waterways projects worth more than Rs. 1,000 crore

GN Bureau | January 13, 2023


#shipping   #tourism   #Ganga   #Varanasai   #Narendra Modi   #Ganga Vilas   #infrastructure  


Prime minister Narendra Modi on Friday flagged off the world’s longest river cruise, MV Ganga Vilas, and inaugurated the Tent City at Varanasi via video conferencing. He also inaugurated and laid the foundation stones for several other inland waterways projects worth more than Rs. 1,000 crore during the event. In line with the PM’s endeavour to boost river cruise tourism, the huge untapped potential of river cruises will get unlocked with the launch of this service and it will herald a new age of river cruise tourism for India.

Addressing the gathering, he pointed out that the river cruise from Kashi to Dibrugarh will bring to the fore places of tourism in north India on the world tourism map. He said other projects being dedicated in Varanasi, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, Assam will give a push to the tourism and employment potential in eastern India.

Underlining the central role of river Ganga in the life of every Indian, he lamented that the area around the banks lagged behind in development in the post-independence period, thereby leading to a massive exodus of population from this area. He elaborated on a twin approach to address this unfortunate situation. On the one hand, the campaign to clean Ganga was undertaken through Namami Gange and ‘Arth Ganga’ was taken up on the other. In ‘Arth Ganga’ steps have been taken to create an environment of economic dynamism in the states from where Ganga passes.

Directly addressing the tourists from foreign countries who are traveling on the maiden journey of the cruise, the PM said, “Today India has everything and a lot beyond your imagination.” He further added that India can only be experienced from the heart as the nation has welcomed everyone with open hearts irrespective of region or religion, creed or country and welcomed tourists from all parts of the world.

Throwing light on the experience of the river cruise, Modi said that it has something special for everyone. He added that those seeking spirituality will cover destinations like Kashi, Bodh Gaya, Vikramshila, Patna Sahib and Majuli, tourists looking out for a multinational cruise experience will get the opportunity to via Dhaka in Bangladesh, and those wanting to witness the natural diversity of India will cross through Sundarbans and the forests of Assam.

He said that this event was a reflection of the policies, decisions and direction taken after 2014 in the country. “This decade of the 21st century is a decade of infrastructure transformation in India. India is witnessing a level of infrastructure which was unimaginable a few years ago.” He said from social infrastructure like houses, toilets, hospitals, electricity, water, cooking gas, educational institutes to digital infrastructure to physical connectivity infrastructure like railways, waterways, airways and roads, all these are strong indicators of the rapid growth of India. In all the fields India is seeing the best and biggest, he pointed out.

Background

MV Ganga Vilas
MV Ganga Vilas will begin its journey from Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and travel around 3,200 km in 51 days to reach Dibrugarh in Assam via Bangladesh, sailing across 27 river systems in India and Bangladesh. MV Ganga Vilas has three decks, 18 suites on board with a capacity of 36 tourists, with all the luxury amenities. The maiden voyage has 32 tourists from Switzerland signing up for the entire length of the journey.

The MV Ganga Vilas cruise is curated to bring out the best of the country to be showcased to the world. The 51 days cruise is planned with visits to 50 tourist spots including World Heritage Sites, National Parks, River Ghats, and major cities like Patna in Bihar, Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Kolkata in West Bengal, Dhaka in Bangladesh and Guwahati in Assam.

Tent City at Varanasi
Tent City has been conceptualised on the banks of the River Ganga to tap the potential of tourism in the region. The project has been developed opposite to city ghats which will provide accommodation facilities and cater to the increased tourist influx in Varanasi, especially since the inauguration of Kashi Vishwanath Dham. It has been developed by Varanasi Development Authority in PPP mode. The tourists will reach the Tent City by boats from different Ghats situated in the vicinity. The tent city will be operational from October to June every year and will be dismantled for three months due to the rise in river water level in the rainy season.

Inland Waterway projects
Developed under Jal Marg Vikas Project, Haldia Multi-Modal Terminal has a cargo handling capacity of around over 3 Million Metric Tonne Per Annum (MMTPA) and the berths are designed to handle vessels up to around 3000 Deadweight tonnage (DWT).

The PM also inaugurated four floating community jetties at Saidpur, Chochakpur, Zamania in Ghazipur district and at Kanspur in Ballia district in Uttar Pradesh. Besides, he laid foundation stones for the five Community Jetties at Digha, Nakta Diyara, Barh, Panapur in Patna district and Hasanpur in Samastipur district in Bihar. More than 60 community jetties are being constructed along the river Ganga across the states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal to boost the economic activities and improve the livelihoods of local communities in the region. The community jetties would play a key role in improving the livelihoods of people by providing simple logistics solutions for small farmers, fishery units, unorganised farm-producing units, horticulturists, florists and artisans focussing on economic activities in and around the hinterland of river Ganga.

Modi also inaugurated the Maritime Skill Development Centre for North East at Guwahati. It will help hone the rich talent pool in the North Eastern region and will provide for better employment opportunities in the burgeoning logistics industry.

In addition to these, the PM also laid the foundation stone for a ship repair facility and an elevated road at Pandu Terminal in Guwahati. The Ship Repair facility at the Pandu Terminal will save a lot of valuable time as it takes more than a month for a ship to be transported to the Kolkata Repair facility and back. Moreover, it will also result in huge savings in terms of money as the transportation cost of the ship will also be saved. The dedicated road connecting the Pandu Terminal to NH 27 will enable 24-hour connectivity.

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