The project falls in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal and major districts under its ambit are Varanasi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Buxar, Chhapra, Vaishali, Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Musrhidabad, Pakur, Hoogly and Kolkata.
"The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 at a cost of Rs 53.69 billion with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank," the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.
The project is expected to be completed by March 2023 and will provide an alternative mode of transport that will be environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country, the government said adding that it will boost infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on - Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids.
"NW-1 development & operations will lead to direct employment generation to the tune of 46,000 and indirect employment of 84,000 will be generated by vessel construction industry," the statement said.
About the funding part, the government said IBRD loan component will be Rs375 million while the Government of India counterpart funds will be to the tune of Rs 380 million, to be sourced from budgetary allocation and proceeds from the bond issue.
Private sector participation under PPP mode would be Rs 45 million.
Major components of the project are fairway development, construction of the multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia besides construction of inter-modal terminals at Kalughat and Ghazipur and construction of a new navigation lock at Farakka.
Besides there will be the provision of navigational aids, construction of five pairs of Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) terminals, construction of Integrated Ship Repair and Maintenance Complexes and provision of River Information System (RIS) and Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS).
The government said one of the major problems for a commercially viable and safe navigation on NW-1 is low depth upstream of Farakka due to low discharges from tributaries and difficult hydro morphological characteristics of river Ganga.
A pilot study on the Allahabad-Ghazipur stretch was commissioned by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to find solutions to this problem.
Based on the findings of this study, a proposal for the development of NW-1 at an estimated cost of Rs 700 million was taken up for seeking technical assistance and investment support from the World Bank to the tune of Rs 350 million in three phases.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley had announced the JMVP in Budget Speech in July 2014 to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the Ganga river.