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Describing the inland waterways development a game changer in national connectivity, Union Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari today said the move will cut down transportation cost as also road congestion. Gadkari said that at present there are only five inland waterways and the central government has identified 106 more. He said this would reduce the cost of transportation for goods and passengers, reduce road congestion as well as play a vital role in reducing pollution. "This will also give a boost to tourism," he said addressing the Regional Editors Conference organised by the Press Information Bureau here. The Minister for Road Transport Highways & Shipping, gave an overview of his Ministry's achievements as well as plans for future growth. He said that the Narendra Modi government plans to construct 2000 water ports. Gadkari further said hovercrafts and amphibious buses would be introduced to enhance the use of these inland waterways sea planes. Beginning with shipping, he informed that while ports around the world had faced losses, Indian ports had shown a growth of 2.6 per cent, earning profits of nearly Rs 6,000 crore. At present the country has 12 ports and there are plans to add six more. The minister briefly touched upon the Sagarmala Project whose port-led economic growth intends to give a boost to the coastal economy, as it would develop manufacturing hubs as well as promote fishing. Gadkari said, according to experts, Sagarmala industrial clusters will attract investment worth Rs 8 lakh crore. He added it is necessary to increase the draft capacity of Indian ports to enable larger ships to dock so as to increase the transportation capacity and reduce commercial cost. While speaking about national highways, the minister informed that the government plans to connect Mansarovar by next year. He said that Katra would also be connected by an expressway that will reduce the travel time by 6 to 7 hours. Gadkari informed that the Centre has restarted almost 95 percent projects that had been stuck for various reasons. The minister said the government would make sincere effort to add 1 lakh kms roads during the five-year term. He also pointed out that there was an urgent need to reduce pollution in the country. Gadkari also expressed concern about traffic accidents and lamented the large numbers of deaths and injuries caused to people are on the country's roads. In this regard, he said that his Ministry had indentified 726 black spots in the country. For prevention of accidents, he said that road engineering played a vital role. The Minister said that it was necessary that at the stage of preparing the detail project report (DPR) that various aspects of engineering should be taken into consideration. "Adding crash barriers, signs, lights and markers at appropriate places would go a long way in making our roads safer," he said.
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