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Developing Indian waterways as effective supplementary modes of transportation
The Allahabad-Haldia waterway has immense cargo transport potential but its capacity is not fully utilised due to depth limitations in the upper reaches. To allow for more cargo movement, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) maintains a 45 m large channel through the waterway. However, the minimum Least Available Depth (LAD) varies in different stretches of the waterway, which does not allow uninterrupted cargo movement. We conducted a study to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of various solutions for achieving 3.0 m LAD for smoother and more consistent navigation in the 330 km AllahabadGhazipur stretch. We then demonstrated a phased approach to developing and implementing these solutions in a fast and cost-effective way.
Improving navigation in an inland waterway
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways. About 24 million tonnes of cargo was transported by India’s inland waterway operator, Inland Water Transport (IWT), in the year 2012-13 alone. Considering the inherent advantages of this mode of transportation, the Government of India wants to make it an effective supplementary mode of transportation with respect to cargo transport – equal to rail and road transportation. The Allahabad-Haldia waterway is nearly 1,620 km long and spans the northern states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand and the eastern state of West Bengal. The waterway has immense cargo transport potential but its capacity is not fully utilised due to depth limitations in the upper reaches.
To allow for more cargo movement, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) maintains a 45 m large channel through the waterway, with a minimum Least Available Depth (LAD) of:
However, for uninterrupted cargo movement, the entire waterway must be uniformly deep – and to be economical, it should be able to cater to high capacity barges.
Our solution: a multi-pronged effort
Currently, the waterway only caters to 1.0 million metric tonnes per annum (MMTPA) of cargo. However, within the next decade, about 35 MMTPA of cargo is expected on it. Thus, it needs to be more navigable and capable of handling this steep increase in cargo transport volumes in the coming years.
We conducted a study to evaluate the techno-economic feasibility of achieving 3.0 m LAD for smoother and more consistent navigation in the 330 km Allahabad-Ghazipur stretch. This is because, although Allahabad and Varanasi are the main potential cargo areas, the river flows through Ghazipur from Haldia, with depth maintained at 2-2.5 m only.
For this study, IWAI provided us with water level information, depth data and bathymetry details of the entire stretch. Using our one-dimensional MIKE 11 (now MIKE HYDRO River) model, we simulated water levels for various flow conditions. We then compared the predicted data with measured levels to calibrate the model for the flow conditions. Following this, sediment transport, erosion and deposition was also modelled for the existing situation.
The aim of the mathematical modelling was to resolve the flow all along the stretch in the existing conditions and also with the proposed measures to maintain the 3.0 m LAD. A number of solutions needed to be evaluated for improving the waterway’s navigation and cargo handling capabilities. These river training measures included:
To evaluate all these possible solutions, we tested the hydraulic and morphological characteristics of the various solutions.
To do this, we used established tools such as:
We then completed our techno-economic feasibility study by combining these evaluations with economic analyses of costs and benefits.
Making the Allahabad-Ghazipur stretch ofthe Allahabad-Haldia waterway morenavigable
Augmenting capacity of the waterway forhandling greater cargo transport
Taking a step towards making nationalwaterways a mode of transportation equalto road or rail
In order to provide a sustained depth of 3.0 m LAD in the river, we identified certain challenges that needed to be overcome. These included:
We demonstrated a phased approach to developing and implementing these solutions in a faster and more cost-effective way. The first phase included submerged groynes or bed vanes. We suggested that dredging be executed at eight stretches within 24 locations. For the second phase, we suggested that three barrages, 7 m high each, be constructed upstream of Ghazipur, upstream of Babura and downstream of Chunar (Maharachhi village). The barrages would be more permanent solutions and would help to obtain a 3.0 m LAD throughout the entire stretch.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) owns and operates waterway concessions. The Authority offers project development, infrastructure maintenance, and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
MIKE HYDRO RiverMIKE 21C
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