Varanasi, Aug 12 India is poised to harness its 20,000 km of river fronts and 7,500 km of coastline with an initial investment of Rs 50,000 crore, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said here today.
Flagging off trial run of two vessels carrying Maruti Suzuki cars and construction material. The two vessels - 1,400 tonne capacity MV Joy Basudev and 300 tonne capacity MV VV Giri containing newly assembled cars of Maruti Suzuki and construction material, respectively -- were flagged off from the Aghoreshwar Bhagwan Ram Ghat, Varanasi.
National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is being developed under the Jal Marg Vikas Project with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore and would ensure commercial navigation of higher tonnage vessels on 1,620 km stretch on Ganga from Varanasi to Haldia.
"Waterways will prove to be UP's growth engine. We are harnessing our 20,000 km of river front and 7,5000 km coastline with an initial investment of Rs 50,000 crore," Gadkari said after the launch of the vessels. He said transportation of cars by waterways will reduce its cost by Rs 5,000 in West Bengal.
The Minister said that promotion to waterways would generate at least 4 to 5 lakh employment in UP itself. "The Narendra Modi government does not believe in empty words and translates into reality what it says. The present project of making Ganga navigable is one such example," he said.
Parliament earlier this year had passed the crucial bill to declare 111 rivers across the country into National Waterways and paved way for development of these stretches as transport carriers, he said. So far, only five of the river stretches were declared as National Waterways.
The Minister said now that Parliament has given its nod to declare 111 additional rivers as waterways, the government is committed to aggressively work to develop these as the environment-friendly mode of transport which is bound to decrease significantly the huge 18 per cent logistics cost in India.
"Financing would not be a problem for us," Gadkari said, adding that by promoting water transport, logistic cost - which is 18 per cent in India as compared to barely 8-10 per cent in China and 10-12 per cent in European countries - will come down significantly. The reforms in the sector have started becoming visible, he said, adding water transport was not only environment-friendly but also much cheaper as it costs Rs 1.5 per km to carry cargo through road, Re 1 through rail and barely 25 paise through water.
National Waterway-1 is of national significance passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, potentially serving the major cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad and their industrial hinterlands including several industries located along the Ganga basin.