New Delhi: Parliament’s approval will be sought in the ongoing budget session to convert 101 rivers into waterways, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
“A proposal to convert rivers into waterways is with the Cabinet. We have identified 101 rivers to be converted into waterways. We will seek Parliament approval in the ongoing session,” the Minister of Road Transport and Highways told reporters in New Delhi.
For 55 rivers, consultants have been appointed and detailed project reports (DPR) are being formulated, he added.
“All projects will be done on public-private-partnership basis and we will not have any dearth of money,” Gadkari said.
At the same time, he said, there would not be any “privatisation of ports” and no employee will be laid off.
The government has so far declared only five river stretches as waterways.
Gadkari said a slew of steps were underway to promote the sector as the country was yet to tap the potential of waterways despite they being more cost effective than road and rail transport.
Waterways could contribute significantly in propelling economic growth, he said.
He said his ministry was committed to reducing traffic burden from roads and promote water transportation where transportation cost is barely 30 paise a km in comparison to Re 1 by railways and Rs 1.5 a km through roads.
“In China 44.3 percent of transportation takes place through waterways whereas in India it is a dismal 3.4 percent,” Gadkari said, adding that if the mode of transportation is developed it will also reduce burden from roads.
He said India accounted for five lakh accidents per annum in which 1.5 lakh people lost their lives.
Inland waterways comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters extend to about 14,500 km across the country. However, potential of this mode of transport has not been fully exploited so far.
The government has already decided to launch PM Jal Marg Yojna and projects for setting up dry and satellite ports, besides converting riverways into waterways.
Recently Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) signed a pact with Odisha government, Paradip Port and Dhamra Port to develop commercially viable stretches of National Waterway 5.
In the National Waterway-5, East Coast Canal has been integrated with Brahmini river and Mahanadi delta rivers (588 km). Also a project to develop National Waterways -4, Sholinganallur-Kallapakkam stretch of South Buckingham Canal has been sanctioned.
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).