The 1,095-km-long National Waterway 4, better known as Buckingham Canal, is in for a major makeover to bring it back to its past glory ferrying people and cargo.
The waterway, which runs from Kakinada in East Godavari district to Puducherry, where it merges into the Bay of Bengal, cutting through Chennai, has the potential to play a big role in transport of cargo and developing the tourism sector, including offering House Boats as in the Kerala backwaters.
The Andhra Pradesh government last week signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Inland Waterways Authority of India for the development of National Waterway 4 with an outlay of ?3,000 crore.
Ajay Jain, Principal Secretary, Energy and Industries, Andhra Pradesh, told BusinessLine, “This is a move to revive the inland waterway network and will play a big role in reviving the economic activity along the waterway. Work on some segments such as dredging of the canal in AP has already commenced.”
“Based on the detailed project report to be prepared by a consultant, and potential of cargo movement, Phase One of the waterway is proposed to be completed by 2018-19. The State government will help the Inland Waterways Authority with land acquisition and related issues,” Jain explained.
While the NW-4 project was declared national waterway in 2008 and was to be developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India and scheduled for completion in 2013, it received fresh impetus after the N Chandrababu Naidu government assumed office in June 2014.
With about 888 km of the 1,095-km waterway in Andhra Pradesh, its development is seen to play a major role in transport of cargo from East and West Godavari, Krishna, Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore districts. The waterway is seen as having the potential to transport 11 million tonnes of cargo every year, and be especially useful to the agriculture sector in moving produce.
While the waterway cost was estimated at ?1,500 crore in 2009, it has doubled now but its scope has been expanded as it seeks to link up Godavari and Krishna rivers and the Eluru Canal.
In its efforts to shore up the economy along the waterway, the AP Government and Dredging Corporation of India have inked a memorandum to set up the country’s first dredging equipment repair facility port at Antarvedi near Kakinada, which will see an initial investment outlay of ?1,500 crore. It is also proposed to set up a skill development centre there.
The Buckingham Canal started off as an 11-km saltwater navigation channel in 1806 in the erstwhile Madras state was gradually extended up to Vijayawada till the Krishna river. The canal, which was in service up to the late 1970s, was damage by floods and gradually its usage dwindled.
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