New Delhi: Government is likely to bring in a bill that seeks to convert 101 rivers across the country into waterways in the upcoming session of Parliament, Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.
Keen on promoting water transport to propel economic growth, the government has set an ambitious target to convert 101 rivers into waterways.
"We have moved the Cabinet note in this regard. We will try to introduce it in this (upcoming) session," the Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister told PTI.
He said promoting waterways is the top-most priority of his Ministry, which has identified 101 rivers to be converted into waterways, which are cheaper mode of transport.
"Transportation cost through waterways come to barely 30 paise a km in comparison to Re 1 a km through railways and Rs 1.5 a km through road. Unfortunately this mode of transport is yet to be tapped in our country," Gadkari said.
"In China transportation of goods constitute 44 per cent of the total transportation in comparison to a minimal 3.3 per cent in our country."
The government has so far declared only five river stretches as waterways.
Inland waterways comprising rivers, lakes, canals, creeks, backwaters etc. Extend to about 14,500 km in the country. However, potential of this mode of transport has not been fully exploited so far.
The government has already decided to launch a scheme, 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.
The National Waterways-1, 2 & 3 have been made operational
Five National Waterways are Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (Allahabad-Haldia-1620 km); river Brahmaputra (Dhubri-Sadiya-891 km); West Coast Canal (Kottapuram-Kollam) along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals-(205 km); Kakinada-Puducherry canals along with Godavari and Krishna rivers (1078 km) and East Coast Canal integrated with Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta rivers (588 km).