KOCHI: Union Minister for Shipping, Transport and National Highways Nitin Gadkari has said that the Central Government is keen to give priority to inland waterways. If the cost of road transport is `1.50, for railway it is `1 and for inland waterways it comes to only 50 paise. Passenger transport, tourism, and water sports are all important for the economy of the country, the minister added.
He was inaugurating the second Coastal Shipping and IWT Business Summit here on Friday via video conferencing. The minister said that the government is committed to encouraging all people from Kerala and to give them opportunity in the industry.
“Coastal shipping and Inland water transportation is on top priority for the government. In order to increase our GDP we have to concentrate more on shipping and ports. The government is interested in starting inland waterways in the country. We want to develop river connectivity with the help of inland waterways. The work on Ganga from Gangothri to Haldia, and from Haldia to Brahmaputra has already started. We have already started giving permission to seaplane services. A Ro-Ro service from Chennai to Mundra will be started. With this the car manufacturers from Chennai can send their trucks to Mundra and the automobile manufacturers in Delhi can send their cars to Chennai,” the minister pointed out.
The Minister further said that the government plans to make new ports and connect them with railway network.
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy stressed on the need to develop suitable government policies in transport and facilitation for coastal shipping and inland water transportation. “The huge proportion of cargo moved by water in China, Europe and United States has been achieved because of conducive governmental initiatives and intervention. It is unfortunate that, despite inherent advantages and many known benefits, we have not been very successful in exploiting the potential of coastal shipping and waterways,” he added.
The port charges of 10-20 per cent of the cost of coastal shipping in India need to be reduced to affordable levels, both at the major and non-major ports, the CM said. He said that issues like corporate taxation, personal income tax of sailors, manning scales and cabotage need attention by the Central Government.