The decision was taken by the union cabinet which met here with Prime Minister Narendra Modi in chair.
“This will create a logistic supply chain with inter-modal (rail, road and waterways) connectivity,” the cabinet said in a statement.
The cabinet said that decision will positively contribute to the gross domestic product (GDP) by opening up business opportunities in the area of dredging, barge construction, barge operation, terminal construction, terminal operation and storage facilities.
Other areas that will be positively impacted by the decision are tourist cruises, consultancy, training of manpower for manning barges and hydrographic survey.
“Investment in all these business areas will create numerous opportunities for employment and economic development and reduce pressure from the already over-loaded, congested and costlier other surface modes of transport,” the cabinet said.
The cabinet added that due to very little investment made so far on development of this mode in the country, it remains under-developed and its share in overall internal cargo transport remains abysmally low.
Inland water transport sector at present has a meagre nodal share of only 0.4 percent in India compared to 42 percent in the Netherlands, 8.7 percent in China and over 8 percent in the US.
Currently, only five waterways have been declared as national waterways in the country.