The government today approved a proposal to allocate 2.5 per cent of the Central Road Fund (CRF) for National Waterways that would result in about Rs 2,000 crore proceeds per annum for their development. The Union Cabinet has accorded its approval to a proposal jointly mooted by the ministries of shipping and road transport & highways for amendment of Central Road Fund Act, 2000, so as to allocate 2.5 per cent of the proceeds of CRF for development and maintenance of National Waterways, an official source told PTI.
It also approved a commensurate reduction in the share provided for development of National Highways.
The source said the Cabinet has also directed that while implementing viable National Waterways projects, all such components that can be done on PPP (public private partnership) basis should be explored and government funding be used only if private investment is not forthcoming.
“An allocation of 2.5 per cent of CRF proceeds would provide approximately Rs 2,000 crore per annum for the development and maintenance of NWs at existing rates of duties funding the CRF,” the source said.
The government has been emphasising on the importance of developing the inland water transport sector. The National Waterways Act, 2016 for developing and maintaining the existing five NWs and 106 new NWs has been passed by Parliament and is now enforced.
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The arrangement approved by the Cabinet would make available adequate and sustainable source of funding for NWs through institutional means of CRF.
This is one more step towards promotion of the inland water transport sector as a cost effective, logistically efficient and environment-friendly sector which would contribute in diverting traffic from the over-congested roads and railways. It will also offer an incentive and provide certainty for private companies to invest in the sector.
It is estimated that a standard 2000 DWT vessel has the potential to transport 125 truck loads and almost one complete train rake (40 rail wagons) load. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has estimated that approximately Rs 25,000 crore would be required for development of identified projects on NWs till 2022-23.