The State Government has requested the Centre to expedite the implementation of the proposal for development of National Waterway-5 (NW-5)for connectivity to the hinterland as well as some ports in Odisha.
The NW-5 connects Odisha with West Bengal using the stretch on river Brahmani, East Coast Canal, river Matai and Mahanadi river delta. The 588-km canal system will handle the traffic of cargo transport.
The waterway comprises the canal section as well as the river section. The canal section is the combination of old Hijli Tidal Canal and Odisha Coast Canal, together called the East Coast Canal (ECC). The ECC runs from Geonkhali on the right bank of river Hooghly (around 34 nautical miles or 68 km downstream from Calcutta Port) to Charbatia where the canal joins river Matai and thereafter through the river section to the port of Paradip.
The waterway is from Geonkhali to Charbatia (217 kms), Charbatia to Dhamra (39 kms), Dhamra to Mangalbadi (28 kms), Mangalbadi to Paradip (67 kms), Talcher to Jokadia (131 kms) and Jokadia to Mangalbadi (106 kms).
The proposed waterway has been classified into three stretches- Talcher to Mangalabadi (237 kms), Dhamra to Paradip (95 kms) and Dhamra to Geonkhali (256 kms).
Official sources said a detailed topographic and hydrographic survey was carried out for the entire length of the waterway from Charbatia to Geonkahli in canal section and from Talcher to Paradip under Dhamra in river section.
The ECC connects river Rupnarayan through a lock at Geonkhali in Midnapore district in West Bengal to river Matai through a lock at Charbatia in Bhadrak district. The distance from Geonkhali to Charbatia is 217 km of which 91 km is in West Bengal and the rest in Odisha.
The canal has a broadly north-south orientation and runs more or less parallel to and roughly 5 km from the east coast. The construction of the canal started in 1880 and the canal was opened in 1885 for navigation.
As the rivers in this part of West Bengal and Odisha follow easterly course and join Bay of Bengal, the ECC crosses several rivers such as Haldi, Rasulpur, Subarnarekha, Panchapada, Budhabalanga.
When completed, the waterway will transport coal, iron ore, paddy, rice, animal fodder, jute, coconut, manure, consumables, fish products, fertiliser, cement, sugar, salt, building materials (sand, bricks, metals, tiles, asbestos sheets and fabricated steel items) and textiles.
In a written reply to a question from Prafulla Samal (BJD) in the Assembly, Minister for Commerce and Transport Subrat Tarai said the Government is pursuing with the Centre for early implementation of the project.