Govt plans to ply 500 barges in Ganga

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on January 12, 2018 Published on June 27, 2017

If Varanasi and Haldia could be connected to Chittagong in Bangladesh and further to Myanmar, a South Asia connectivity would be viable

Cruise tourism policy to be unveiled soon

The government is looking to buy 500 barges (a flat-bottomed boat that carries goods) to ply in the Ganga river, some of which would run on alternate fuel. Also, a cruise tourism policy will be announced next month to attract 700 vessels a year, Road Transport and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said at an event here on Tuesday.

“The thinking is that if Varanasi and Haldia could be connected to Chittagong in Bangladesh and further to Myanmar, then we could have a South Asia connectivity not just for moving passengers but also goods,” Gadkari said.

Cruise tourism

The policy aims to boost cruise tourism in the port sector, including Mumbai, Chennai, Mangaluru, Goa and Kochi, targeting a 10-fold increase in vessels that visit the country to 700 a year, from 70 at present. “Cruise tourism can be India’s economic growth engine as there is a vast untapped potential. In a month, the policy will be ready as a joint working group comprising shipping and tourism secretaries is working on it,” he said.

Alternate fuels

On the use of alternate fuels, Gadkari said Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation makes available methanol from coal and ethanol from agriculture.

“We want tourists to use the Yamuna for visiting Taj Mahal, after flying in to Delhi. We have recently issued a tender to dredge the Yamuna – between Palam and Wazirabad – and also have a plan to dredge the Yamuna beyond Wazirabad,” he added.

He said Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh governments were looking to procure vehicles that can ply on land and water, which would ensure vehicles such as water-plane, seaplane, hovercraft, and catamaran.

Gadkari said he was in talks with NITI Aayog for developing methanol-based vehicles. “We are also in talks with Volvo for 50 buses that can be run on methanol on the Mumbai-Pune Expressway,” he said, adding that firms, including Gujarat State Fertiliser Corporation, could supply methanol.

The Minister said he had also spoken with Ola to consider running 200 taxies – say 100 Volkswagon vehicles with flex engines – available in the US and Brazil –which can move on both petrol and as well as 22 per cent blended ethanol.

Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have high ethanol production from corn, etc, which can be used as biodiesel, he added.

Published on June 27, 2017
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