Special focus on developing inland waterways will result in four-fold cargo volume increase on Ganga, while the 'Arth Ganga' project will boost economic activities along its bank, Union minister Mansukh Lal Mandaviya said on Thursday.
Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, while tabling the Budget in Parliament on February 1, had said that the Prime Minister has conceptualised 'Arth Ganga' and plans are afoot to energise economic activities along the river bank.
"Waterways is one of the most important pillars of 'Arth-Ganga' project, which will result into inclusive growth and play a key role in generation of enormous employment opportunities in the National Waterways stretch," Shipping Minister Mandaviya told reporters here.
He said that almost half of the Indian population lives around the Ganges river belt in which about 1/5th of the country's freight originates and 1/3rd terminates.
The Ministry of Shipping has taken several initiatives in the last few years which has resulted in substantial growth in terms of increasing inland cruises from three to nine, cargo volume from 30 lakh tonnes to 70 lakh tonnes and vessels inflow from 300 to 700, he said.
A lot of activities like developing of small jetties by the ministry have been carried out for the benefit of farmers, traders and general public in the 1,400-km stretch of National Waterway-1 from Banaras to Haldia, he added.
"The farmers will get a better return for their produce as the transportation of goods would become easier and cost effective by this. It will improve Ease of Living' and Ease of Doing Business'," the minister said.
Mandaviya further said that his ministry is developing Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh) Freight Village and Sahibganj (Jharkhand) Industrial Cluster-cum-Logistics Park with an objective of creating synergy with inland waterways at a cost of Rs 200 crore.
This will create huge direct and indirect employment, giving an economic boost in this particular area.
Mandaviya also said National Waterway-1 will act as the main conduit of connection with Nepal in a trilateral manner, that is from Varanasi to Nautanwa (280 kms), Kaughat to Raxaul (204 kms) and Sahibganj to Biratnagar (233 kms).
Earlier, Nepal was connected by Kolkata and Visakhapatnam ports for transporting cargo.
"Now, inland waterways, particularly NW-1 will be allowed under Treaty for Transit of Cargo between Government of India and Government of Nepal. It will save logistic cost and decongest Kolkata Port as well," he said.
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