To boost the maritime sector, the government will begin the work before March for setting up three major ports at Tamil Nadu, West Bengal and Maharashtra, said Union Minister Nitin Gadkari on Saturday.
“We will invite tenders before March for setting up three major ports – one at Colachel in Tamil Nadu, one at Sagar in West Bengal and one at Dahanur in Maharashtra,” Road Transport and Highways Minister Gadkari said addressing the Economic Times Global Business Summit.
He said a note in this regard is pending with the Cabinet and is likely to get cleared next month.
India at present has 12 major ports under the control of the Centre and 200 non-major ports.
Gadkari said the government was also serious to develop 280 light houses and 1,300 islands as tourist attraction.
“Expression of interest has been received for 70 light houses,” he said adding, they will start attracting tourists soon.
On waterways, he said he was hopeful of getting Parliament nod on bill to convert 111 rivers across the country into waterways.
“So far only five waterways on Ganga, Brahmaputra, Buckingham canal (in Chennai), Kerala Backwaters and Mahanadhi river in Odisha have been declared by Parliament as National Waterways,” he said.
“The bill to convert 111 rivers into waterways, I expect, will be cleared in the next session of Parliament. Lok Sabha has already passed it,” he said.
The minister said it is unfortunate that the country is still to harness waterways as the medium of cargo and passenger movement.
He said 47% of the cargo is moved by waterways in China while 43-44% of cargo is moved by it in Korea and Japan but India the percentage is a mere 3.5%.
He said the work is on full swing to develop 1,620 km of Varanasi to Haldia stretch on Ganga for which the World Bank has already sanctioned Rs 4,200 crore.
He said 30 small water ports will be developed initially in the country while three multi-modal hubs- one each at Sahebganj, Haldia and Varanasi are on the anvil.
River traffic system to keep a vigil on vessels movement has already been introduced on Haldia to Farakka stretch, the minister added.