NEW DELHI: A bill to develop 101 waterways was passed by Lok Sabha today with government saying it was aiming to garner Rs. 1 lakh crore to fund projects to provide low-cost river transportation as ‘Make-in-India’ dream will not be realised if logistics cost are not reduced.
Citing the “success stories” of Europe as well as China in the use of waterways, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said India is lagging behind and outlined how the government is now developing national waterways to cut logistics cost, make Indian industry competitive and help developing smart townships along the rivers.
Replying to a debate on The National Waterways Bill, 2015, he sought the support of states in this endeavour.
The House later passed the bill by voice vote after approval of the official amendments, mostly of technical nature, and rejecting an amendment proposed by NK Premachandran (RSP).
Mr Gadkari said his ministry is working to develop three more major ports, besides the existing 12 as the aim is to reduce the logistic cost with a view to promote exports, generate employment, boost tourism and growth.
Responding to members’ questions over funding of the ambitious waterways projects, the minister said he is aiming to garner Rs. 1 lakh crore through innovative methods, which include a Rs. 50,000 crore from World Bank, investment of profits of shipping PSUs into a subsidiary company and obtaining dollar loan at cheaper rates, besides seeking funds from the Budget.
He said his ministry has hired foreign consultants to seek technical expertise for construction of water ports.
“Make-in-India dream cannot be realised if logistics cost are not reduced. So waterways are being given a priority. We want to work with state government support. If some state government says they do not want to work, we will not work. We will work with cooperation of states,” Mr Gadkari said.
Talking about the measures being taken, he said in two years’ time Ganga will look clean, logistic cost will reduce to 15 per cent from 30 per cent, market competition will increase and new township will be set up along river.
The Bill seeks to develop 101 waterways across the country and 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.
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.