Government plans to set up three waterport hubs: Gadkari

New Delhi, Sep 30 (IANS) The government is planning to establish multi-modal waterport (a waterways port) hubs in Sahibganj in Jharkhand, Haldia in West Bengal and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said here on Wednesday.

The ministry is working towards establishing a ‘waterport’ in Sahibganj that will accelerate import and export of goods between India and Bangladesh, he said.

He was addressing an event organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in cooperation with the ministry of commerce and industry and the World Bank.

Gadkari also said the tonnage of barges for these waterways will be enhanced through special design to handle larger volumes of passenger traffic and cargo.

According to industry body CII, inland waterways or a waterport will not only offer economical transportation of passengers and bulk cargo between different parts of India but could also facilitate greater trade flows with the neighbouring countries like Bangladesh.

Stating that the use of inland waterways will bring down the logistics costs for industry, Gadkari said profits accrued from the Indian ports and Shipping Corporation of India will be channelled for development of inland waterways.

He said that Indian ports have become profitable once again and that he had mandated the ports’ management to be benchmarked with the best managed and profitable ports globally.

Speaking about development of roads and highways in the country, Gadkari said his ministry plans to set up a National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) international arm that will drive development of roads and highways projects to connect the neighbouring countries.

The international arm could also extend its expertise to the South Asian countries for the development of roads, highways, expressways and bridges.

Gadkari also referred to how his ministry is taking the public private partnership (PPP) route to undertake major highways and expressways project development, and said that the administrative system would have to be streamlined in order to achieve success and efficient results.

On the sidelines of a separate event, the minister said corrective steps by the Modi government have led to rollout of majority of stuck highways projects worth Rs.3.8 lakh crore.

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