Five rivers in Gujarat — Tapi, Narmada, Mahi, Luni and Sabarmati — were likely to be linked to develop waterways in the state, said Mansukh Laxman Mandaviya, Union Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Chemical & Fertilisers, in Surat on Saturday. He was speaking at the Stakeholders’ Conference aimed at developing the inland waterways in the state.
Mandaviya said, “In comparison to road transport, sea transport is much safer for the transport of goods and passengers. There is a big possibility of developing inland waterways connecting five rivers of Gujarat, like Tapi, Narmada, Mahi, Luni and Sabarmati, for the transportation of goods and passengers. This project is on the top priority of shipping industry due to its geographical state and feasibility. Modi government has spent about Rs 1,200 crore in the past three years for the development of Inland Water Transport (IWT) sector in India. IWT and coastal shipping can play critical role in pushing the nation’s growth. We will ensure all small and big ports get rail connectivity.”
Mandaviya added, “In European countries, 40 per cent goods are transported through waterways whereas in India it is only five percent. Apart from this, the expenses are high in logistic transport, and through the development of waterways, such transportations would be cheapest and safest. The heavy load of traffic on the roads will be fewer and the numbers of accidents will also be reduced.”
About Roll-on, Roll-off (Ro-Ro) ferry services from Dahej to Ghogha, Mandaviya said, “The detailed project report of the extension of Ro-Ro ferry services, from Dahej to Hazira and from Ghogha to Pipava, Somnath and Victor in Saurashtra, is ready. The primary survey work has been completed and under Public Private Partnership, the work will commence soon. The journey through road transport from south Gujarat to Saurashtra earlier took around 8 hours, but through Ro-Ro ferry services, it now only takes about three hours.”
The stakeholders who were present at the occasion and gave their suggestions included Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) hydrographic chief Ashish Arya, IWAI technical member S K Gangwar, Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) vice-chairman & CEO Ajay Bhadoo and chairman of Deendayal Port Trust, Ravi Parmar.