The government Wednesday said it is holding talks with a Netherlands-based agency to work out a technical report on developing the infrastructure on the Yamuna river to facilitate goods and passenger traffic.According to Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari, passenger and freight will be able to use the waterway on the Yamuna river between the national capital and Agra."Soon people can go to Agra via Delhi through Yamuna. We will request the prime minister and the finance minister to ensure special funds for the project," Gadkari said.
The development comes after Gadkari chaired a high-level meet to discuss the project. It was decided that the ministry submit a cabinet note regarding the project.The minister said he has sought assistance from the Netherlands government which has agreed to come out with a technical report for the project.The minister added that to facilitate the movement, infrastructure like barrages, reservoirs, river-side ports and terminals have to be built on the Delhi riverfront side, as well as, erected near Agra.The infrastructure will ensure at least five metres water in the Yamuna all through the year for transportation purposes.The move is expected to give a major boost to the tourism sector, as Delhi, Agra and Jaipur form the golden triangle on the tourist map of India.
It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of in-bound tourists visit the triangle every year.
The government has decided to convert waterways into commerce way and have accorded key priority to it.Port infrastructure is planned at cities like Varanasi, Allahabad and Patna among others.India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks.About 55 million tonnes of cargo is moved annually by inland water transport (IWT). Around 23,684,728 metric tonnes (MT) of cargo was moved on the national waterways-I, II, III in 2012-13.Cargo like cement, fly ash, iron ore, coal, steel shed, tyres, galvanized steel plain sheet, stone chips, furnace oil, diesel, lube oil, pulses, aluminium block, sand, petroleum products and timber are being majorly transported by IWT.
Currently, the IWT operations are restricted to a few stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak, the river systems in Goa, the backwaters of Kerala, and the deltaic regions of the Krishna-Godavari rivers.Besides organised operations by mechanised vessels, country-made boats of various capacities also operate in these rivers and canals, ferrying cargo and passengers in the unorganised sector.