The Union Shipping Ministry, headed by Nitin Gadkari, has asked for a 25 per cent increase in allocation in the upcoming Budget 2019-20, Business Standard has reported. Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley, will present the government’s last budget before the general elections, on 1 February 2019.
The increased funds, to the tune of Rs 2,350 crores will largely be used by the ministry to fund the expansion of inland waterway network in India. “A major share of the allocation would be spent on the inland waterways programme as the government aims to project waterways as a cleaner and efficient mode of transportation,” a senior bureaucrat with the Ministry was quoted as saying.
After being neglected for decades in India’s infrastructure and logistics planning, national waterways took centre-stage when the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government passed the landmark National Waterways Act, 2016. It recognised 111 national waterways in the country.
In 2017, the Union Cabinet also approved the proposal to allocate 2.5 per cent of the Central Road Fund for the development and maintenance of inland waterways. The emphasis on these waterways is justified by the fact that they are more cost-effective, environment-friendly and logistically efficient when compared to roads and railways.
These inland waterways will also provide synergies with the Shipping Ministry’s Rs. 8.5 trillion Sagarmala project which plans to promote the port-led development of the nation.
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