Amaravati: Ships in India may soon run on methanol as the centre is drawing up plans in this regard, union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

Gadkari also stressed on the importance of developing waterways for their cost effectiveness. “To cut the high cost of logistics in the country, inland waterways are being developed in a major way while methanol will soon be made the fuel for ships," the road transport, highways and shipping minister said. He was speaking at the foundation stone-laying ceremony for an inland waterway project in river Krishna in Vijayawada.

“Methanol requires coal. Coal is an indigenous fuel available in AP, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh," the minister said. He said exports can be increased by reducing the cost of logistics, which will, in turn, create more employment. Underlining the importance of waterways, the minister said the centre has taken up their development as the highest priority.

“Cost of road travel worked out to Rs1.50 while rail travel cost Re1, whereas by water it is just 20 paise. That’s the reason waterways are very important... In China, the logistics cost is 8-10%, in European countries it is 12-14% and in India it is 18%. Soon, all shipping here will be converted to methanol. This will reduce costs and help increase our exports," Gadkari said.

He pointed out that Volvo has started operating buses that ran 100% on methanol. “There is another foreign company operating in India that can make engines that run on methanol. Methanol is going to reduce the costs," Gadkari said.

He said a joint venture company would soon be formed with the Andhra Pradesh government for developing the National Waterway-4 project under the Sagar Mala project, which envisages modernization of the country’s ports.