Maruti Suzuki to ferry cars via waterways | Mint
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Business News/ Industry / Manufacturing/  Maruti Suzuki to ferry cars via waterways
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Maruti Suzuki to ferry cars via waterways

Maruti Suzuki will first move cars by road from its Gurgaon factory to Varanasi, where it will be put on a roll on-roll off vessel to transport to Haldia

It will take 1.5 to 2 days to move the cars by road from Gurgaon to Varanasi and the journey from Varanasi to Haldia will take another seven days. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/MintPremium
It will take 1.5 to 2 days to move the cars by road from Gurgaon to Varanasi and the journey from Varanasi to Haldia will take another seven days. Photo: Ramesh Pathania/Mint

Bengaluru: On Friday, V.V. Giri, a roll-on-roll-off inland vessel will set sail from Aghoreshwar Bhagwan Ram Ghat in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal, a distance of 1,275 kms, carrying a mix of 24 Alto and Celerio cars manufactured by Maruti Suzuki India Ltd, marking a turning point in India’s attempts to tap its vast network of waterways considered economical and environment friendly to move goods and cut dependence on road and rail.

Giri is owned by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)—the agency tasked with developing waterways in the country—but is given on lease to Spring Professional Services Pvt. Ltd for operations.

Maruti Suzuki, India’s largest car maker, will first move the cars by road from its Gurgaon factory to Varanasi, where it will be put on the ro-ro vessel and transported to Haldia. It will take 1.5 to 2 days to move the cars by road from Gurgaon to Varanasi and the journey from Varanasi to Haldia will take another seven days.

“We are optimistic of completing the Varanasi to Haldia trip in five days, but the inaugural trip will be longer by two days because of celebrations en-route," said Inderveer Solanki, managing director, Spring Professional Services.

In contrast, a pure road movement from Gurgaon to Kolkata will take five days, Solanki said.

Currently, Giri has a capacity to load 32 cars, though the vessel can be modified to carry 90 cars.

“We will construct two more decks when we get volume commitment from Maruti Suzuki," Solanki said, adding the car maker will save roughly 2,000 per car on logistics costs by transporting through waterways if the vessel is run on full capacity of 90 cars.

Maruti Suzuki could be not reached immediately for comment.

“It’s a historical moment for inland water transport in India which has been neglected for so many years. It will be the beginning of a new mode of transport that is fuel efficient, economical and environment friendly," says Solanki.

India currently has five national waterways. An omnibus law permitting the government to declare 106 new inland waterways spread across 24 states as national waterways was approved by Parliament recently.

Currently, cargo movement along the five existing national waterways totalling 4,434 km is less than 3 million tonnes a year, accounting for a paltry 3% of all cargo movement in India.

The Varanasi-Haldia waterway stretch on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers falls on National Waterway-1, the longest waterway in India totalling 1,620 km passing through UP, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal. It was declared a national waterway in October 1986.

National Waterway-1 is being developed under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of 4,200 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 tons from Varanasi to Haldia.

The first phase of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch. The project includes development of fairway, construction of new multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia, and Sahibganj, strengthening of open river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking and construction of a new navigational lock at Farakka.

“It has started to show the advantages of water transport mode. In times to come, this will become one of the major modes of transport," Solanki said.

A similar experiment to ship cars along the coast ended abruptly. In February this year, IDM Symex, a ro-ro car carrier, shipped 800 cars made by Hyundai Motor India Ltd, from Chennai to Pipavav in Gujarat. But the service was discontinued due to longer transit time, high ship operating costs and lack of return cargo.

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Published: 11 Aug 2016, 08:08 PM IST
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