New Delhi: A Bill seeking to develop 101 waterways across the country was introduced in Lok Sabha today amid government's contention that the measure is aimed at providing a cheaper mode of transport and reducing traffic burden on roads.
The new 101 new inland waterways will be in addition to the five existing National Waterways.Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari introduced the National Waterways Bill, 2015, which says the proposed legislation is aimed at integrated development of inland waterways throughout the country since the waterways is “lagging behind” road and rail sectors.
The government has said promotion of waterways is a priority for this as it is a cheaper mode of transportation compared to roads and railways.
Gadkari has maintained that the government is aiming to reduce traffic burden from roads and promote water transportation where the cost is barely 50 paise a km in comparison to Re 1 by railways and Rs 1.5 a km through roads.
Inland waterways, comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters, extend about 14,500 km across the country. However, potential of this mode of transport has not been fully exploited so far.
The government has already decided to launch PM Jal Marg Yojna and projects for setting up dry and satellite ports, besides converting riverways into waterways.
“Development of waterways that are found feasible for navigation would commence from 2016-17”, Gadkari had said earlier, insisting that multi-modal hubs - as proposed at Varanasi and Sahibganj - would boost industry, employment generation and GDP growth.
There is also a proposal to establish a multi-modal grid with road, rail and port connectivity with river terminals on the existing NWs and the Barak river.
Government has already approved the Jal Marg Vikas (NW-I) which is a component of this grid.Five of the river-stretches, which have been declared as National Waterways, include Ganga-Bhagirathi- Hooghly river system (Allahabad-Haldia-1,620 km); the Brahmaputra (Dhubri-Sadiya-891 km); West Coast Canal (Kottapuram-Kollam) along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals-(205 km);Kakinada-Puducherry canals along with Godavari and Krishna rivers (1,078 km) and East Coast Canal integrated with Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta rivers (588 km).