NEW DELHI: As he virtually laid the foundation stones of three major projects in Assam, including a shiprepair facility at Pandu in Guwahati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that strong connectivity is essential for building a developed India with river waterways becoming the country’s new strength.
While flagging off the world’s longest river cruise MV Ganga Vilas, inaugurating the Tent City at Varanasi and launching other projects related to inland waterways, he called the 21st century India’s century. Due to major initiatives launched by his Government, the next decade is going to transform India’s infrastructure in highways, railways and waterways, said the Prime Minister.
Detailed action plan
Though India has thousands-year old history of trade through waterways, there was little use of waterways before PM Modi came to power. With just five national waterways existing in the country in 2014, his Government prepared a detailed action plan for the development of river waterways in the major rivers of the country.
In 2016, India enacted the National Waterways Act, creating 106 new waterways on many rivers, river stretches, estuaries, creeks, backwaters and canals in the country. It was part of a renewed push for the development of large-scale commercial shipping and navigation on these inland waterways to transport bulk and hazardous goods. Today, work is on to develop 111 national waterways in 24 states. Of these, services are currently running on about two dozen waterways.
Till eight years ago, only 30 lakh metric tonnes of cargo was transported through river waterways. Today, this capacity has increased more than three times. The number of people using river waterways is also increasing continuously. The National Waterway-1 (NW-1) stretch along the Ganga-BhagirathiHooghly river system between Haldia (Sagar) and Allahabad (1620 km) is developing like a model for the whole country by becoming an important medium for transport, trade and tourism.
The modern multi-modal terminal at Haldia in West Bengal connecting to Varanasi, and also with the Northeast through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR), will make eastern India a growth engine for developed India, facilitating business from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal to Bangladesh.
As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the setting up of a ship-repair centre in Pandu will ensure that vessel owners can repair their vessels on time without having to travel to Kolkata. This usually takes several months and is exorbitantly costly but now the owners and operators can save both time and money.
With the aim to improve the navigable capacity of Indian rivers and create a network of waterways in the country, India is eyeing an investment of Rs 35,000 crore by 2047, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, Chairman of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), said.
The Government is planning to have around 150 vessels conducting such river tours over 80 circuits. This will help to entail an estimated investment of Rs 35,000 crore by 2047, he added.
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