India has planned to open about 850 ports along its key rivers such as Ganga, Brahmani, Brahmaputra, West Coast Canal, Godavari, Krishna and Barak .This was set as a development measure by the private sectors and the foreign investors as the NarendraModi-led government as planned to scale up the inland waterways infrastructure in the country. Following this plan the shipping ministryis drawing a blueprint for a new investor friendly agreement. The officials of the shipping ministry declared that to execute the plan on the new ports would require an investment of nearly Rs 4,000 crore.
They also added that the size of these ports will be either small or medium sized and most of these ports will fall along the coal-bearing routes. By this it is possible in making these projects commercially exploitable. These projects will be offered based on its design, the building process, its mode of operation and the transfer model. The government is likely to offer this upcoming project as model concession agreement (MCA) with a contract period of nearly 30 years and making it a lucrative proposition for the private investments.
The government is aiming that the new waterways will be a huge opportunity in transportation of coal to power plants along the riversides. The official pointed out that railways earn over 40 % of the total revenue from transportation of coal and shifting the transportation through the river ways will be environment friendly and also bring down the overall transportation costs. Shipping minister NitinGadkari proposed that these inland waterways sector along with international ports will contribute about 1 per cent to the country’s GDP in the next few years.
India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise rivers, canals, creeks and backwaters. Six national waterways have currently served in 15 states and account s for nearly 4,500 km. The longest stretch of the waterways is being the long Haldia-Allahabad route on the Ganga which accounts to 1,620 km. Inland waterways in India accounts only 3 % of the total transport and to strengthen the inland transportation network the government has planned to develop 101 inland waterways in different states which requires about Rs 35,000 crore as investment. There are also planning to set up satellite and dry ports to facilitate the cargo movement through trains for states that do not have waterways.