In an industry first move, Maruti Suzuki will use National Waterway-I to transport cars from Gurgaon to Kolkata.
Every car manufacturer transports freshly produced cars from the factory to various cities using container trucks. However, in an industry first, Maruti Suzuki is toying with the idea of transporting cars from its factory in Gurgaon, Haryana to Kolkata, West Bengal through waterways, in a bid to save on time and costs. The pilot run will be conducted in October itself and after that the company will take some time to decide when to commence these operations in full swing.
The National Waterway-I is 1680 kms long and is aided by the World Bank as a part of multi-modal transport opportunities. The Inland Waterways Authority of India is now creating new infrastructure for smooth movement of commercial cargo along the entire stretch of the NW-I. Maruti will first have to transport cars to Varanasi which is 800 kms from Delhi and from there they will be transported to Kolkata over a distance of 1300 kms by river.
All the cars will be unloaded at Netaji Subhash dock in Kolkata. The pilot run will be conducted on IWAI’s barges which can carry 30 cars at one go but if full-time operations commence, then the company will have to use customised containers since the current ones are not designed to carry cars. However, commercial operations will have to wait till multi-modal terminals are ready over the period of the next two years.
Businesses will make use of waterways for their own commercial benefit. While Maruti spends Rs. 70,000-75,000/- on a single container that transports seven units of the Alto by road, the company will be spending Rs. 55,000/- per container if waterways are used. Commercial viability depends on the capacity of the barge and the time and cost saved in actual operations.