Rajya Sabha passed the National Waterways Bill, 2015 on Wednesday by voice vote. With the passage of the bill more than 100 waterways will be made in the country as an alternative mode of transportation.
Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution allows the central government to make laws on national waterways by an act of parliament.
Nitin Gadkari, Shipping Minister, said even though waterways are recognised as fuel efficient, cost effective & environment friendly mode of transport, they received lesser investment as compared to roads and railways.
“ We never spent adequate money on water ways. Our logistics cost will come down in future. It will also create jobs,” Gadkari said.
Congress leader Shantaram Naik asked the minister if he has plans to develop these waterways in PPP mode?
“You have sought to nationalise 111 rivers, what actually you propose to do? Has any assessment of the money required made” asked Naik.
Several members who commented on the provision of the bill expressed concerns over the pollution that arise out of transportation .
Tiruchi Siva, DMK MP referred to parliamentary standing committee report and sought ‘sufficient allocation of finances to waterways’ to avoid delays.
“States must continue to regulate on water and a committee representing state government’s must be appointed to resolve issues at state level,” the report said.
Committee report also said that ‘waterways lack water through out the year as they are rain fed.’
Reacting to recommendations made by standing committee, Gadkari said that ‘ the bill does not take takeaway states rights.’
Lok Sabha passed the bill earlier on 21 December, 2016.