Minister for Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Nitin Gadkari, on Monday vowed to make possible waterway travel from Varanasi to Allahabad before 2019 Kumbh mela. “We will make sure that people can travel from Varanasi to Allahabad through waterways in 2019 Kumbh,” Gadkari was quoted as saying by ANI. Gadkari, who made comments after meeting Yogi Adityanath, also assured Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister of converting 73 State Highways into National Highways. “We have been assured 73 State Highways will be converted into National Highways”, Adityanath told media. The chief minister further thanked Narendra Modi Government for clearing a number of schemes for the state. Adityanath said,”First time so many schemes have been cleared which include around Rs 10,000 crores from Central Road Fund for the construction of roads.” Utilising the full potential of rivers for transport of goods by developing inland waterways has been on top of the PM Narendra Modi government agenda. Gadkari’s Shipping Ministry, having secured Rs 2,000 crore from a central fund for development of water transport, is eyeing to operationalise at least 10 of the 111 National Waterways by next year.
Last month, the government had approved allocation of 2.5 per cent of the Central Road Fund (CRF) for Nationa Waterways (NWs), an amount aimed to provide Rs 2,000 crore proceeds a year for the development of NWs, reports Press Trust of India. “The Cabinet has approved Rs 2,000 crore from CFR and we can easily get works done worth Rs 12,000 crore from that by raising more funds. It is my endeavour to operationalise 10 waterways before December 2018,” Gadkari had told PTI in an interview.
As per a PTI report, massive work worth Rs 5,000 crore is underway on Ganga (1,620 km), which is the National Waterway No 1. The report adds that the work includes the development of three multi-modal hubs at Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Haldia in West Bengal and Sahebganj in Bihar.