New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday called the movement of the first cargo vessel on an inland waterway after independence a historic achievement and said transportation through rivers and water channels is a proof of new India and its new vision.
The revival of inland waterways in India is a new step toward economic development as it would ease traffic pressure on roads and help cut logistic costs, said Modi, who was in Varanasi to receive the first inland waterway container consignment.
“I am happy that the dream of river water transportation that this country had seen has come true today," he said.
The transportation system is a big boost for eastern India, which would benefit from it directly, he said. Inland waterways will not only help Uttar Pradesh, but also West Bengal, Jharkhand and Bihar.
The Prime Minister said his constituency Varanasi will be a showcase of India’s development for the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas scheduled for next year. The people of Varanasi will be ready to welcome non-resident Indians and the city should leave such an impact on them that they should visit it again and again, he said.
The National Democratic Alliance government aims to increase the inland waterway cargo movement from 8 million tonnes at present to 27 million tonnes in the next one-and-a-half to 2 years, said Nitin Gadkari, the minister for road transport and highways, shipping and water resources, who was also present. It is an irony that the water transportation idea, which was mooted in 1986, did not become reality till now, he said.
By the completion of the Modi government’s first term, road and highway projects worth ₹ 2 trillion would have been started and completed, Gadkari said.
In the forthcoming Kumbh Mela, inland waterways would be a prime attraction with catamarans reducing travel time between Varanasi and Allahabad to one-and-a-half hours along with 5-star and 7-star cruises in Ganga, Gadkari said.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government’s efforts have transformed Ganga in a big way, Gadkari said. Ganga water has been found clean at 55 places and by March 2019 around 70% of Ganga will be clean because of the projects worth ₹ 10,000 crore that have been undertaken, he said.