Waterways transport in India is all set for a revolution and has potential to bring down logistics cost by 4 per cent that will propel exports by 30 per cent, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday kicking off PSU Concor’s maiden containers voyage through coastal shipping.
The shipping and road transport minister said many firsts in the country were lined up as massive works were underway on projects for turning 11 rivers into waterways besides pilot run of aeroboats on Ganga on January 26.
Launching Container Corporation of India’s (Concor) first-ever container transport through coastal shipping from Kandla to Tuticorin port via Mangalore and Cochin through video conferencing here, Gadkari recalled how people used to laugh at his dream of developing waterways and running cargo ships on the river Ganga.
“Now we have paved the way for exports to Bangladesh and Myanmar through Varanasi…If we reduce our logistics cost by just 4 per cent then our exports will boost by 25-30 per cent…We are one of the fastest growing economies and we have the potential to do it,” Gadkari, who is also the Water Resources Minister, said.
“The share of coastal shipping (in movement of cargo) in China is 24 per cent, Germany 11 per cent and in USA it is 9 per cent but in India it is barely 4.5 to 5 per cent….Massive works are underway to develop waterways which many thought was a dream only. Of the 111 rivers to be converted into waterways, projects are underway on 11,” Gadkari said.
He said 80 lakh tonne of cargo was transported through the Ganga this year which was going to swell to 280 lakh tonne as a draft of 3 metre has been maintained on Varanasi to Haldia stretch of 1,680 km.
On the request of the UP Government, the Centre is maintaining 1 metre draft from Allahabad to Varanasi and barges are designed with such techniques that they can carry 3,500 tonne of cargo each in place of 2,000 tonne at present.