The government today approved a proposal for central legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as national waterways.
“The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to carry out official amendments in the National Waterways Bill, 2015,” an official statement said.
The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of states.
It provides for enacting a central legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as the national waterways.
“After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes up to 111,” the statement said.
The changes effected in the original list of 101 waterways, which was introduced with the National Waterways Bill 2015 on May 5 this year, include omission of 10 waterways of Kerala, merger of 17 with the existing waterways and addition of 18.
“In order to carry out these changes, an official amendment to the National Waterways Bill, 2015 will have to be moved in the Lok Sabha in the current session of Parliament,” the statement said.
Declaration of additional 106 waterways as national waterways will not have any immediate financial implications, the statement said, adding financial approval of the competent authority for each waterway will, however, be taken based on the outcome of the techno-economic feasibility studies which are being undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).
“The declaration of these national waterways would enable IWAI to develop feasible stretches for shipping and navigation. The right over the use of water, river bed and the appurtenant land will remain with the state government,” the statement said.
In addition, other benefits to states include fewer accidents, less congestion on roads, cheaper mode of ferrying passengers, reduced logistics costs in cargo movement and development of adjoining areas.
Road Transport and Highways Minister Nitin Gadkari has said the government is hopeful of Parliament’s nod on the bill in the current session.