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Clean energy fund might pay for inland waterways

Funds could also be used for setting up bunkering facilities for LNG near port

Vijay C Roy  |  New Delhi 

Arun Jaitley
Union Minister for Finance Arun Jaitley interacts with the media on the volatility of the share market in New Delhi. Photo: PTI

In Budget 2016-17, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley might allocate monies from (NCEF) to develop logistics infrastructure for inland waterways and coastal transportation.

In the current financial year, Rs 8,916.50 crore was collected as coal cess for NCEF. According to the Budget estimates of 2016-17, an amount of Rs 13,118 crore is likely to be collected as coal cess for NCEF.

In the last Budget, for the second time in a row, the cess on coal was doubled to Rs 200 a tonne. In his maiden Budget in July 2014, Jaitley had increased it to Rs 100 a tonne from Rs 50 a tonne.

According to sources, the funds allocated for NCEF could also be utilised for setting up bunkering facility for liquefied natural gas near the port. Fuel utilised by shipping companies for fuelling their marine fleet is referred to as bunker fuel.

Sources added inland waterways and coastal shipping have for years since Independence not been given much importance. It was in 1986 when the government started looking at waterways. Even after that, till 2010, only Rs 1,117 crore was spent on inland waterways.

India has five declared national waterways. Cargo movement on national waterway 1 (NW-1) is around three million tonnes (mt), followed by NW-2 with two mt and NW-3 with one mt.

Currently, the Centre is developing NW-1 between Haldia and Allahadbad. The World Bank has agreed to provide technical assistance and investment support of Rs 4,200 crore for the development of the project.

Three multi-modal ports - at Haldia (West Bengal), Sahibganj (Jharkhand) and Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) - will also be developed to aid transportation of goods by linking them with rail and road network. The work on the multi-model terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj and Haldia is expected to commence in April 2016.

Further, an important and much-needed sub project of constructing a new navigational lock at Farakka to facilitate efficient and smooth navigation on NW-1 is expected to commence in May 2016. The total investment in these inland waterways projects is close to Rs 1,300 crore.

In addition to the existing five national waterways, 106 more inland waterways would be declared as national waterways after the passing of the National Waterways Bill 2015. The ministry might commence development work on a few newly-declared National Waterways after the Bill is passed by Parliament.

First Published: Mon, February 29 2016. 00:15 IST