FCI flags off first vessel carrying PDS rice from Patna to Guwahati via waterways

FCI flags off first vessel carrying PDS rice from Patna to Guwahati via waterways

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

The vessel named MV Lal Bahadur Shastri, carrying rice in 3,700 double gunny packs, is expected to take about 25 days to cover a distance of around 2,350 km and reach Pandu in Assam in the first week of March. After unloading at Pandu Port, the rice will be moved to the FCI depot at Changsari in Assam’s Kamrup district.

This is a major boost to India’s cargo movement infrastructure, with rice shipment from the IWAI terminal at Phulwari Shariff in Patna, moving on two of the world’s largest rivers—Ganga and Brahmaputra—sailing on international waters through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route.

The Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade between India and Bangladesh allows use of their waterways for the movement of goods between the two countries by vessels of both countries. National Waterway- 1 on Ganga is connected to National Waterway-2 on Brahmaputra and National Waterway-16 on Barak through the IBP routes.

The vessel, carrying rice to northeastern states for distribution through the Public Distribution System (PDS), will traverse through Bhagalpur, Farakka, Kolkata, Haldia, Chilmari, Dhubri and Jogighopa, among others.

Union minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution Piyush Goyal, who flagged off the vessel, said that use of riverine transportation is expected to give boost to economic activities and likely to provide a viable alternative to the conventional mode of movement of foodgrain for NE region.

In order to ensure availability of foodgrain through PDS across the country, the FCI uses means of transportation such as rail, road, waterways and air. In 2020-21, FCI transported 59.45 million tonnes (MT) of foodgrains from grain surplus states to grain deficient states. The grain surplus states include Punjab, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

Around 80% of foodgrains were transported through railways, 19% using road transportation and the rest through waterways.

In 2021-22, FCI is expected to transport close to 62.5 MT of foodgrain to states for distribution through PDS.

Distributed to beneficiaries under the National Food Security Act in northeastern states, rice is mostly transported from Punjab or Andhra Pradesh using various modes of transportation.

Meanwhile, the FCI has also commenced using bulk movement of foodgrains through specialised wagon, container movement and coastal or riverine movement.

Check the source here –Source, Financial Express.