At least 111 rivers across the country are set to be developed to enable movement of goods and passengers, with Parliament today giving nod to a bill in this regard. The National Waterways Bill, 2015 was passed by Lok Sabha with a minor amendment after having been approved by Rajya Sabha on March 9. The Lower House had passed it earlier also on December 21 last year but the amendment made it necessary for its passage again in the House.
The amendment made in Rajya Sabha was moved by Minister of State for Shipping Pon Radhakrishnan which was approved. The bill provides for enacting a central legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as the national waterways in addition to five existing national waterways.
Allaying fears of the state governments that the new law will infringe upon their rights, Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has said in the Rajya Sabha that the passage of the much-awaited Bill will infact boost the maritime trade of the states and augment their economy.
“The declaration of National Waterways does not restrict the rights of state governments in any way. It only facilitates Government of India in developing the waterway for shipping and navigation. It will not infringe upon their rights on minerals and water etc,” Gadkari has said.
Justifying the measure, he has regretted that the waterways had taken a backseat in India, with only 3.5 per cent of trade being done through the mode here as against 47 per cent in China, 40 per cent in Europe, 44 per cent in Japan and Korea and 35 per cent in Bangaladesh.