111 rivers declared as national waterways; development of water transport to give fillip to industrial, tourism growth
The Union government plans to introduce RO-RO services at five locations on the Ganga, including Varanasi, Bhagalpur, Haldia and Patna. It plans to appoint a consultant to advise on establishing freight transportation services at the five locations.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India, an agency under the shipping ministry, has already tendered bids for the same. Besides the identified locations on the Ganga, some on Brahmaputra might be added to the list. The government intends to build these freight services on par with international standards.
Execution of these transportation services is part of the National Waterways Act 2016. Under the Act, a total of 111 waterways have been declared as national waterways for development of modernised passenger and freight services.
An official said a bunch of domestic and international consultants from Europe and the US have been shortlisted for the project.
The consultants are expected to provide inputs on development of infrastructure at the port terminals, selection of the type of vessels that can be operated on these port stations, evaluation of the total cost of the project and the mode of operation of the project – public-private-partnership or any other. These freight transportation services will be developed in phases and one such RO-RO service has already started at Sahibganj in Jharkhand.
Inland water transport is considered to be the most cost-effective and economical mode of transport from the point of view of fuel efficiency.
The central government intends to develop feasible stretches of waterways for shipping and navigation. The right over the use of water, riverbed and the land still remains with the state government.
The other benefits of these services are less congestion on roads, cheaper mode of ferrying passengers, reduced logistics costs in cargo movement and development of adjoining areas.
With the development of national waterways, the government plans to enhance the industrial growth and tourism potential of the hinterland.
They can come up as a cheaper and environment-friendly mode of transportation throughout the country.
TEST THE WATERS
- Cabinet clears National Waterways Act, 2016
- 111 rivers declared as national waterways
- RO-RO services announced for 5 locations
- Domestic, international consultants shortlisted for providing expertise
- Development of water transport to give fillip to industrial, tourism growth
- Waterways cheapest mode of transport, compared with roads and railways