New Delhi: In order to boost transportation of goods and passengers through waterways, the government plans to seek the Parliament nod for converting 101 rivers into waterways, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.
"A Bill is ready for converting 101 rivers into waterways. We will seek Parliament nod on it. We have identified 101 rivers, which cover almost all rivers of the country, to be converted into waterways," the Minister of Road Transport and Highways Gadkari told reporters here.
For 55 rivers, consultants have been appointed and detailed project reports (DPR) will be formulated once necessary approvals were sought, he added.
The projects will be done on public-private-partnership basis, he said.
The government has so far declared only five river stretches as waterways.
Gadkari said a slew of steps are underway to promote the sector and the country is yet to tap the potential of waterways despite being more cost effective than road and rail transport.
Waterways could contribute significantly in propelling economic growth, he said, adding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be invited to Varanasi to visit a multi-modal area comprising terminals.
He said his ministry was committed to reducing the 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.
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).