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Food Corporation of India Inaugurates First Vessel Transporting Rice From Patna To Guwahati Through Waterways

Approximately 80% of foodgrains were delivered by trains, 19% via road, and the remainder via waterways.

Shivani Meena
Transportation Through Waterways
Transportation Through Waterways

The Food Corporation of India (FCI), in collaborative efforts with the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), flagged off a cargo vessel carrying around 200 tonnes of rice from Patna in Bihar to Pandu in Guwahati, Assam on Saturday in a first-of-its-kind action plan to transport foodgrains to northeastern states via riverine route.

The MV Lal Bahadur Shastri, transporting rice in 3,700 double gunny bags, is projected to cross a distance of roughly 2,350 kilometers in 25 days and arrive in Pandu, Assam, in the first week of March. The rice will be transported to the FCI depot in Changsari, Assam's Kamrup district, after being unloaded at Pandu Port. 

This is a significant boost to India's cargo transportation infrastructure, with rice shipments from the IWAI terminal at Phulwari Shariff in Patna traveling on international seas via the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) line on two of the world's largest waterways, the Ganga and the Brahmaputra. 

The Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh provides for the use of their rivers for the transit of products between the two nations by vessels from both countries. And through IBP routes, National Waterway-1 on the Ganga is linked to National Waterway-2 on the Brahmaputra and National Waterway-16 on the Barak. 

The vessel will pass through Bhagalpur, Farakka, Kolkata, Haldia, Chilmari, Dhubri, and Jogighopa, among other places, on its way to northeastern states for supply through the Public Distribution System (PDS). 

Piyush Goyal, Union Minister for Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, who flagged off the vessel, stated the use of riverine transportation is anticipated to enhance economic transactions as well as provide a feasible alternative to the traditional mode of movement of foodgrain for the Northeastern part. 

To ensure foodgrain supply through PDS all across the country, the FCI employs modes of transportation like rail, road, rivers, and air. FCI delivered 59.45 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrains from grain surplus to grain deficit regions in 2020-21. Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana are among the states with grain surplus. 

Approximately 80% of foodgrains were delivered by trains, 19% via road, and the remainder via waterways. 

FCI is anticipated to ship around 62.5 MT of foodgrain to states for distribution under PDS in 2021-22. 

Rice is generally brought from Punjab or Andhra Pradesh and supplied to recipients under the National Food Security Act in northeastern states. 

Meanwhile, the FCI has been adopting bulk foodgrain transit via specialized wagons, container movement, and coastal or riverbanks movement. 

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