The Union Cabinet, presided by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on 24 May 2017 gave a green signal to a proposal jointly mooted by the Union Ministry of Shipping and the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) for amendment of Central Road Fund Act, 2000.
After the amendment, 2.5 per cent of the proceeds of Central Road Fund (CRF) will be allocated for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NWs) and a reduction in the share provided for development of National Highways.
The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 would be moved by the Union Ministry of Road Transport & Highways in the ensuing Monsoon Session 2017 of the Parliament.
Why National Waterways need allocation of funds?
• An allocation of 2.5 per cent of CRF proceeds would provide around Rs. 2000 crore per annum for the development and maintenance of NWs at existing rates of duties funding the CRF.
• The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) estimated that approximately Rs. 25000 crores would be required for development of identified projects on NWs till 2022-23. In this regard, works for construction of multi modal terminals, new navigation lock, River Information System, development of fairway, and others, have already started under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, which is being implemented on NW-1 (River Ganga).
• It is also estimated that 1.8 lakh persons would be provided employment in the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) sector in the next five years.
Inland Waterways in India
• India has a vast network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks.
• The total navigable length is 14500 km, out of which about 5200 kilometres of the river and 4000 kilometres of canals can be used by mechanized crafts.
• Freight transportation by waterways is highly under-utilized in India compared to other large countries and geographic areas like the United States and China.
• Inland waterways in India consist of the Ganga–Bhagirathi–Hooghly Rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak River, the Rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari - Krishna rivers.
When: 24 May 2017