Bengaluru, Nov 26: The government is hopeful of Parliament's nod on the bill to convert 111 rivers across the country into National Waterways in the current session, Road, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.
In a bid to boost movement for goods and passengers via waterways, the Cabinet earlier this year approved the plans for enactment of a legislation for converting 111 river stretches across the country into National Waterways.
"We are hopeful that we will get Parliament approval to convert 111 rivers across the country into waterways in this session only. This will usher in unexpected economic growth for the country," Gadkari told PTI.
He added that work has picked up to strengthen the five existing National Waterways and once the waterways work gains momentum it will "revolutionise" water transport in the country in line with the Western nations where the segment serves as the backbone of the economy.
"We are setting up three multi-modal hubs in the country including one in Sahibganj in Bihar and once completed cargo could directly go to Bangaldesh from Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and states like Uttar Pradesh," he said.
The minister said inland Waterways is a much cheaper and environment-friendly mode of transportation as "one HP moves 150 kg on road, 500 kg on rail and 4,000 kg on water" besides "one litre of fuel moves 24 tonne/km on road, 85 tonne/km on rail and 105 tonne/km on water.
Regretting that such an important mode of transport has so far taken a backseat, Gadkari said, waterways has a meager share of 0.3 per cent in India compared with 42 per cent in Netherlands, 16 per cent in China and and over 7 per cent in the US. "This is a great economic opportunity loss to India." he said.
Five of the river-stretches, which have been declared as National Waterways, include Allahabad-Haldia on Ganga (1,620 km), Brahmaputra's Dhubri-Sadiya (891 km), West Coast Canal Kottapuram-Kollam (205 km), Kakinada-Puducherry canals (1,078 km) and East Coast Canal integrated with Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta rivers (588 km). The minister said that consultants have already been appointed and detailed project reports (DPR) will be formulated once necessary approvals are in place.
The projects will be undertaken on public private partnership (PPP) mode. Inland waterways comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters extend to about 14,500 kms across the country.