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PM Modi leads historic revival of waterways to build New India

PM Narendra Modi on Friday inaugurated the Haldia Multi Modal Terminal built under the World Bank-supported Jal Marg Vikas Project, which seeks to develop the Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia as the country's first modern inland waterway (Image courtesy: Twitter/@WorldBankIndia)

As he virtually unveiled the foundation stones of three major projects in Assam, including a ship repair facility at Pandu in Guwahati, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Friday that strong connectivity is essential for building a developed India with river waterways becoming the country’s new strength.

Calling the 21st century India’s century and this decade as one which is going to transform India’s infrastructure, PM Modi reflected on his government’s policies since 2014 while flagging off the world’s longest river cruise MV Ganga Vilas, inaugurating the Tent City at Varanasi and launching other projects related to inland waterways.

“Before 2014, there was little use of waterways in the country. This was the situation when India had thousands of years old history of trade through waterways. Since 2014, India has been trying to harness this ancient strength of its modern India,” PM Modi said in his address at the launch event.

With just five national waterways existing in the country in 2014, the PM said that his government prepared a detailed action plan for the development of river waterways in the major rivers of the country.

PM Modi

“Today, work is on to develop 111 national waterways in 24 states. Of these, services are currently running on about two dozen waterways. Till 8 years ago, only 30 lakh metric tonnes of cargo were transported through river waterways. Today, this capacity has increased more than 3 times. The number of people using river waterways is also increasing continuously,” said PM Modi.

The National Waterway-1 (NW-1) stretch along the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system between Haldia (Sagar) and Allahabad (1620 km), he said, is developing like a model for the whole country with it becoming an important medium for transport, trade and tourism.

The modern multi-modal terminal at Haldia in West Bengal connecting to Varanasi and also with the Northeast through the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route (IBPR), said PM Modi, will make eastern India a growth engine for developed India, facilitating business from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal to Bangladesh.

Emphasising that the cost of operating waterways is two and a half times lesser than that of roadways, and one-third lesser when compared to railways, PM cited the National Logistics Policy and said that India has the potential to develop a waterway network of thousands of kilometres.

PM Modi

The 125 rivers of India and river streams can be developed to transport goods and ferry people while also giving impetus to further expanding port-led development. He mentioned that the partnerships with Bangladesh and other countries have strengthened the water connectivity in the Northeast.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com, the setting up of a ship repair centre in Pandu will ensure that vessel owners can repair their vessels on time without having to travel to Kolkata. This usually costs them several months and money but now the owners and operators can save both time and money.

PM Modi also unveiled the foundation stone for the construction of an elevated road that will connect the Pandu multi-modal terminal to Guwahati’s National Highway 27. This will make it possible for cargo operators to connect with one another seamlessly and quickly around the clock, making it a viable business proposition.

“Be it a cruise ship or a cargo ship, they not only give a boost to transport and tourism, but the entire industry associated with their service also creates new opportunities,” he said.

The Maritime Skill Centre for Northeast, inaugurated by PM Modi on Friday, will be instrumental in edging rich talent and acquiring much-valued skill sets by the candidates for better employment opportunities in the bourgeoning logistics industry.

“Strong connectivity is essential for building a developed India. That’s why this campaign of ours will go on continuously. May the river give new heights to water power, trade and tourism of the country,” the PM said while concluding his address.

Also Read: PM Modi shows intent to develop northeast by unveiling Pandu port expansion