Mumbai: Keen on promoting water transport to propel economic growth, the Indian government has set an ambitious target of converting more than a hundred rivers across the nation into waterways.
“Promoting waterways is the top-most priority of my ministry,” said Shipping and Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari. “We have identified 101 rivers across the nation to be turned into waterways, which constitute a much cheaper mode of transport than roads and rail.”
A bill to this effect will have to be moved through Parliament before any river can be converted into a waterway. Inland waterways comprise rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters, and extend to about 14,500 km in the country.
The government has thus far declared only five river stretches as inland waterways – Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (Allahabad to Haldia, 1,620 km); the River Brahmaputra (Dhubri to Sadiya, 891 km); West Coast Canal (Kottapuram to Kollam, 205 km); Kakinada-Puducherry canals (along with River Godavari and River Krishna, 1,078 km) and East Coast Canal (River Brahmani river and River Mahanadi delta, 588 km).