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Parliament nod on Bill to convert 101 rivers into National Waterways this session: Gadkari

Promising to overhaul the five existing National Waterways (NWs) within six months, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today said Parliament nod will be sought on the Bill to convert 101rivers across the country into NWs.

In a bid to boost transportation for goods and passengers through waterways, the Cabinet Wednesday gave nod to plans for enactment of a legislation for converting 101 river stretches across the country into National Waterways.

“I am confident that we will get Parliament nod (on the Bill) in the second leg of the ongoing Budget session which will usher in economic growth for the country,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari told reporters here on Thursday.

“Work is already underway to augment five existing NWs, including 1,620 kms Allahabad-Haldia stretch of Ganga-Bhagirath-Hooghly river system for which World Bank has approved Rs 4,200 crore assistance,” he said.

No barrages will be built on Varanasi-Haldia stretch as being “wrongly projected” and advanced technology will be roped in to ensure smooth flow of river water, he added.

Major projects are underway for all existing five Waterways and within six months it will “revolutionise” water transport in the country, keeping pace with global trend, as in places like Europe where all industries are on the banks of rivers, utilising the cheaper mode for transportation, he said.

Inland Waterways (IWWs) is a much cheaper and environment-friendly mode of transportation as “one HP moves 150 kg on road, 500 kg on rail and 4000 kg on water” besides “one litre of fuel moves 24 tonne/km on road, 85 tonne/km on rail and 105 tonne/km on IWW.

Regretting that such an important mode of transport has so far taken a backseat, Gadkari said, “Waterways has a meagre share of 0.3 per cent in India as compared to 42 per cent in Netherlands, 16 per cent in China and and over 7 per cent in USA. This is a great economic opportunity loss to India.”

He said in the next five-six years on IWWs, there would be over 1,000 new barges which will provide direct employment to 20,000 people.

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).

Earlier, he had said that for 55 rivers, consultants have been appointed and detailed project reports (DPR) will be formulated once necessary approvals are in place.

The projects will be done on public-private-partnership basis, he had said.

Inland waterways comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters extend to about 14,500 kms across the country.

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