The Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) is weighing the option of constructing a tunnel under the Hooghly river to facilitate container truck movement from one bank to another, a move that will help decongest the city roads, an official said.
Buoyed by the success of underwater tunnelling work for East-West Metro corridor, the KoPT, rechristened as the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, is planning to appoint a consultant to conduct a feasibility study for building a similar structure under the river, he said.
"It is just an idea as I saw such tunnels in Antwerp port (in Belgium). So we are appointing a consultant to look into it," the port's chairman Vinit Kumar told PTI.
This could potentially free city roads of 700-800 trucks daily, he said.
Trucks that trudge through Garden Reach Circular Road, Kidderpore Road, Hastings and Vidyasagar Setu, also known as the Second Hooghly Bridge, causing traffic snarls and pollution could cross the river via an underwater tunnel then head to the destination from the opposite bank in Howrah.
The port authorities are also exploring RoRo (roll on, roll off) ferry services to facilitate movement of trucks by avoiding city traffic, he said.
Asked whether the current COVID-19 outbreak has impacted the port activities, he said, "Eight pilots tested positive for the disease in a day last week and overall 180 cases have been detected among port employees and support workers. We have not stopped operations for a single day as it causes inconvenience to port users."
Meanwhile, speaking at a seminar organised by CII, Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said the Centre has waived off waterways charges.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) had levied the waterway usage charges at a rate of Rs 0.02 per gross registered tonnage (GRT) per km for inland cargo ships and Rs 0.05 for cruise vessels on national waterways.