The Centre will soon bring 103 rivers under national waterways to give boost to the inland water transportation, which is largely under-utilised. Union shipping, roads and surface transport minister Nitin Gadkari said his ministry has already taken a decision of announcing 103 rivers as national waterways and the matter would soon go to the Cabinet for clearance.
He said the World Bank has already sanctioned R4,000 crore to start work for developing the National Waterways (NW) -1 between Haldia and Allahabad and eleven water terminals would be installed between Haldia and Varanasi. “Developing waterways will save goods transportation costs to a great extent. Against an average of R1 per km in railways, the cost of transporting goods through waterways will come down to average 30 paise a km,” Gadkari said.
He said the total cargo moved by the inland waterways was just 0.1% in terms of tonne kms compared to the 21% in the US. Of the total navigable length of 14,500 kms, 5,200 kms of river and 4,000 kms of canals can be used for the inland water transportation. Cargo transportation through inland waterways was only confined to a few waterways in Goa, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala, but the Centre was keen to unleash its full potential, he said.