New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Cutting across party lines, members in the Lok Sabha today welcomed the Government's move to make certain river and canal stretches in West Bengal, Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Puducherry as national waterways, but said the interests of farmers and fishermen should also be kept in mind.
Pointing out that inland waterways was the cheapest form of transport in the era of rising petrol and diesel prices, the members also called for the integration of waterways with roads and railways.
They were speaking on the two national waterways Bills moved by Shipping and Transport Minister T R Baalu.
The first Bill relates to declaring of Talcher-Dharma stretch of Brahmani-Kharsua-Dharma rivers, Geonkhali-Charbatia stretch of East Coast canal, and Charbatia-Dharma stretch of Matai river and Mahanadi Delta rivers in West Bengal and Orissa as a national waterway.
The second Bill pertains to declaring Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of canals and the Kaluvelly tank, Bhadrachalan-Rajamundry stretch of Godavari river and Waziarabad-Vijayawada stretch of Krishna river as national waterways.
Mr Dharmendra Pradhan (BJP) said Mahanadi river should be linked with Brahmani river so that the Brahmani get water all year round.
This would also help in controlling floods.
Mr K S Rao (Cong) said the new national waterways would help in reducing transportation cost and providing jobs to the unemployed.
He, however, cautioned that irrigation should not be affected while constructing canals. He called for bringing in a legislation to make interstate rivers a national property as thousands of TMCs of water get wasted due to interstate water disputes.
Mr Lakshman Seth (CPM) wanted a law that would enforce public sector to use the inland waterways, leading to huge savings in terms of petrol. He also demanded that Haldia-Sunderbans stretch be made a national waterway.
Mr Bhartruhari Mahtab (BJD) said the Government should provide institutional framework for the inland waterways transport sector in the country.
Both Mr Mahatab and Mr M Sreenivasulu Reddy (Cong) said the inland waterways should be integrated with other means of transport such as roads and railways.
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