Maruti to transport cars by river under new project

Maruti Suzuki India Ltd is set to commence a pilot-run from 12 August in which its cars would be transported from Varanasi to Kolkata on National Waterway-I, shipping minister Nitin Gadkari said on Monday.

During Question Hour in the Rajya Sabha, Gadkari said a memorandum of understanding has been signed between Inland Waterways Authority of India and Maruti Suzuki for transportation of cars through inland waterways.  

Gadkari also said he would inaugurate two ships from Varanasi - one ferrying the Maruti cars and other carrying construction materials - on 12 August.

The minister said the share of waterways in the country was a mere 3.6 per cent and efforts are on to take it over 7 per cent by 2018. He gave a comparison saying the share of waterways in transportion in China was 47 per cent, in Korea and Japan it was above 40 per cent and it played a key role in European countries.

He also gave details of the projects on river Ganga saying it was aimed that by 2020, 200 lakh tonnes of cargo for export would be shipped through waterways.

The minister also gave details of various luxury cruises from seven-star to three and four stars which were operating on river waters.

As the minister gave details of plans to develop waterways, concerns were expressed about the impact it would have on the fishing communities.

Gadkari said he wanted to make it clear that it would have positive impact as it would ensure that fishermen are able to increase their fishing output. With a river traffic system in place, fishermen will get better information about the possibility of floods through the GPS.

A suggestion was also made in the house to develop waterways in Mumbai to decongest traffic there, replying to which Gadkari gave details of the initiatives being taken in Mumbai and Thane.