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Coal movement along Sandheads-Farakka stretch to begin shortly

29 Oct 2013

The much-awaited barge movement of imported coal from the Sandheads, the mouth of the Hooghly river, to Farakka along the National Waterway Number One (NW1) is to begin shortly. NTPC will use the coal for generation purpose in its super thermal power plant at Farakka.

An estimated 70,000 tonnes of coal is believed to have arrived at the Sandheads and the consignment is being transferred from the mother vessel to a transloader, which again will discharge the cargo into barges for onward movement to Farakka along the Sandheads-Farakka stretch of NW1.

Jindal ITF, which has secured the contract for undertaking the entire gamut of operation covering unloading and river transportation of the coal, it is understood, has mobilised as many as 20 barges with a capacity ranging between 2,000 and 2,200 tonnes each, it is learnt.

Bowing down to the wishes of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Kolkata Port Trust, according to sources, has granted relief in port charges to boost cargo movement by the IWT mode.

However, the port authorities are not sure if the present type of barges, RSV 2, (riversea vessel class 2), are suited for operation in the Sandheads.

This is because these vessels do not have proper hatch cover, would find it difficult to remain steady when the wave height is more than two metres and to operate at night.

The sources apprehend that some of the barges in the fleet may not be even RSV 2 type but RSV 1, whereas ideally the fleet should consist only of RSV 4 type. In such a situation, transporting the targeted three million tonnes of coal annually with the help of these barges might be a challenging job, it is felt.

However, the Jindals, as inquiries reveal, are believed to have obtained special permission from the Directorate General of Shipping to operate the barges.

Source: The Hindu Business Line