New Delhi, Dec 1: To revive the shipping industry, government has decided to launch PM Jal Marg Yojna and projects for setting up dry and satellite ports, besides converting riverways into waterways, the Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday.
"Ninety per cent of the Exim cargo in India is transported through ships but the contribution of domestic cargo in it is only 10 per cent...In a bid to boost water transport, we have requested the Prime Minister to launch PM Jal Marg Yojna, which will change the face of India," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said.
Use of rivers for transportation were behind the booming economy of cities like Amsterdam and Spain and "we are formulating a bill that would allow converting any river into a waterway," he said in his statement in regard to two bills, relating to prevention of marine pollution and welfare of seafarers, which were later passed by the House.
"Shipping industry is in a very bad shape. We are making every possible effort to revive it. Dry and satellite ports would be set up in states like Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. We are also taking steps to double the capacity of our 12 major ports," he said.
Gadkari said there were about six lakh Indian seafarers and to increase their numbers government was taking steps to facilitate easier loans to SC/ST and minorities.
The government is committed to reducing traffic burden from roads, which account for about 1.5 lakh deaths per annum and promote water transportation where transportation cost is barely 50 paise a km in comparison rupee one by railways and Rs 1.5 through roads.
Transportation of cargo through Varanasi to Haldia has already been started, he said. On waste disposal system, he said government was sensitive to it and would ensure that seas and rivers were not polluted.