To make shipping on national waterways more lucrative, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has taken up a pilot project to demonstrate methanol as maritime fuel, a top official said Friday.
The nodal agency for inland waterways has decided to place an order to retrofit work boats and new cargo vessels with engines that can run on methanol.
“We are placing order for 3 work boats to retrofit engines and 6 low draft cargo vessels of 1,000-2,000 tonnes capacity to Cochin Shipyard that will use methanol as fuel with technology from Sweden after a go-ahead from NITI Aayog,” IWAI vice-chairman Pravir Pandey said.
Pandey was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a shipping conclave organised by the Bengal Chamber of Commerce & Industry here.
Methanol can be a game changer as the cost of the fuel is just Rs 26 a litre and the roadmap was shown by Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, Pandey said.
IWAI is also working on fuel bunkering facilities in intervals of about 500 km on the entire 1,600 km Haldia-Varanasi stretch for ships on methanol.
Methanol’s volume is higher than diesel.
The design of the cargo vessels have been offered by DST of Germany that requires just 1.5 meters draft — a crucial factor for inland waterways’ success at least in the NW-I that stretches from Haldia to Varanasi.
IWAI has assured draft of 2.8-3 metres till Patna but further upstream there is draft issues which can be as low as 2 meters.
IWAI is also working on freight villages at Sahebgunj and Varanasi for which it has already taken land between 100 and 300 acres that will provide infrastructure to support volumes.
Freight village is an area where all activities relating to transport, logistics and distribution of goods are carried out by various operators. The concept is popular in Europe but new in India.