The Indian government has submitted a bill to parliament which would convert 101 rivers to inland waterways.
Minister for road transport, highways and shipping, Nitin Gadkari said: “Promoting waterways is the top-most priority of my ministry. We have identified 101 rivers across the nation to be converted into waterways, which are a much cheaper mode of transport.”
He added that river transport is cheaper than rail and much cheaper than road. He also stressed his desire to ease road congestion by taking trucks off India’s roads.
According to the Hindu Business Line, India transports only 6% of its goods via waterways and only 0.5% by inland waterways. This compares unfavourably with China, where 22% are transported by water and 8.7% by inland waterways.
India has 14,000 km of navigable inland waterways of which only 3,000 km is used, through five national waterways.
The bill still has to be approved by parliament to become law, which Gadkari hoped would happen this season.
Gadkari also wants to set up dry and satellite ports in a number of states, mostly in the North of the country.
“The shipping industry is in a very bad shape,” he said. “We are making every possible effort to revive it. Dry and satellite ports would be set up in states like Uttar Pradesh and Telangana. We are also taking steps to double the capacity of our 12 major ports.”