And yet waterways transport is one of the most neglected areas in India’s transportation sector. There is hardly any waterway transport corridor worthy of mention. Movement of goods through waterways constitutes only 3.5 percent of the total goods movement in India. Compare this to 47 percent in China, 40 percent in Europe, 44 percent in Japan and Korea and 35 percent in Bangladesh.
To fix this situation parliament has recently passed the National Waterways Bill which declared 111 rivers as National Waterways. The union government is now trying to find innovative ways to raise around Rs 70,000 crore to develop these stretches.
Why is the government so eager to promote waterway transportation?
First, transportation by waterways is significantly cheaper. Transporting bulk cargo by waterways would be 1/4th the cost of moving the same cargo by rail on a per kilometre basis.
Second, waterways are more fuel efficient. One litre of fuel can move 105 tonne per km by inland waterways but only 85 tonne per km by rail and 24 tonne per km by road.
Third, because waterways are more fuel efficient they are also very environmentally friendly. Lesser fuel consumed equals lesser toxic gases emitted into the atmosphere.
Fourth, there is tremendous potential for tourism, water sports and fisheries development. The benefits are immense.
Overall, logistics costs as a percentage of the national GDP is one of the highest in India. It now stands at 18 percent, whereas this is less than 10 percent in China and Europe. By fixing and aggressively promoting waterways the government is hoping to lower logistics costs and provide a massive impetus to the economy.
this page is taken from the Govt of India page on the net on the scheme
But pros and cons are there to any scheme.
When the frequency of water transport will increase it will put the natural environment of marine life at RISK of pollution and their peace will be disturbed. That will result in disturbed breeding behaviour?? May be I am not certain. If pollution at current rate continues then it will hamper the population growth of marine life- including the marine plant life.
Moreover with tourism will come the mingling of people that will create another form of pollution. Many people do not see this as valid point. But few years back similar aspects were raised by the people of Goa and Keral at Kovallum beach.
But for me it will be great. And I can relive the memory associated with our family.
Legend in my family is that one of my ancestors- A”great grandfather” used to visit his ancestral village Jugrajpur in Kanpur near Shobhan by sailing in Ganga from Chandannagore. Obviously it might have been a big boat otherwise how they could have travelled such a long distance in a small boat? First his bazra(big boat) halted at Bithoor- the Bramhavart in Kanpur, Famous for Manu-Rani Jhansi Laxmi Bai, Tantya Tope, NanaSaheb Peshwa. It is now a famous tourist and pilgrimage point in Kanpur on the banks of Ma Ganga.
In childhood I had seen old big boxes of wood carved nicely and packed all sides by big metal strips. That gave it strength. It had big Locks. First the big bazra would anchor at Bithoor. From bithoor either by a bullock cart they used to visit Jugrajpur, or sometimes through a small boat via a small river named as “Pandu” when there was enough water.
Those ancestors had settled in Chandannagore or ? may be in Kolkata?
I am trying to search anyone having Katyayan Gotra and has connection or call themselves as Jagdishpur Mishra- that is Mishra from Jagdishpur? Kanyakubj Brahmin settled in Calcutta or West Bengal may be knowing? I have seen some website where they have listed few names of Kanyakubj Brahmins settled in Bangladesh and had very prosperous life, well settled and patronized Temples etc.
Who knows these waterways might have contributed or provided them safe journey? Because going by the accounts of few British, a journey in those days was not safe. Some examples are a book “The Thugs and a courtesan” by Mukta Singh-Zocchi and other is “Begums, Thugs & Englishmen” The journals of Fanny Parkes- selected and Introduced by William Dalrymple. Whatever I have read till now, has indicated that life in those years was very tough.
But in India, over the years people migrated and settled. The river might have been a major mode of travel in past. A comic, which I had read, has a major impact on me was about Devi Chaudharani. The character of Devi Chaudhrani is so mystical that even few Britishers refused to accept that such a lady even existed in India. But I loved Devi Chaudhrani from heart, as she became a symbol of liberty of women from the oppression and suppression by MEN in the feudal Bengal society. As she herself suffered a lot. But She was courageous lady with determination and patience. Oh my god- I am going away from the topic- you know I love her. But the Guru ji who met her in Jungle must be remembered for what he did.
I wanted to tell that in that comic Devi Chaudharani used to travel in a big boat called bazraa. She fought on the bazra with British forces. Thus the bazraa remained in my memory ever-since I read that comic. Then another example was of the events took place at SatiChaura Ghat on the banks of mother river Ganga at Kanpur. British officers were offered help by The NanaShahib Peshwa (though they did not accept him as Peshwa) to flee to Allahabad. It is said that around 40 boats were arranged. But Destiny did not favour British. Later what happened remains a dark mystery.
One another example was that a journey by train from Hardoi railway station to a station from where I had to go to a village called “Masit”- Barra Masit. Why? Later I found that after walking a kilometre or two I had to cross a river or rivulet. While entering only I came to know that it was very deep. All the villagers had to be very alert and search a path within that river to cross it safely. After getting wet in water I had to walk again upto the house of our relatives. But their house was just next to river. From the Chabutara, a high raised platform in front of house, I could see kingfishers diving for fish.
Most recent journey was from the Princep Ghat to the Howrah railway station in Kolkata. Standing there you cannot imagine that the waterways is a new concept to India. There are so many beautifully constructed magnificent Ghats on the banks of river Ganga. It has been there since old times. I cannot say that only from British times. I refuse to ACCEPT it. Since, India had a long history of Sea voyages. Rivers were there in pre-British or Pre-Mughal India also. Now they cannot claim that Mughal brought boats with them to India? Ashoka is said to have travelled to Taxilla by boat?? Can you Imagine from where he might have travelled? Either, through the coast of Orissa Or Bengal, or from there to somewhere in lower Sind or Gujrat area?
Chola Empire is said to have ventured out deep in sea to the various places in East Asia. A full maritime history is there.
Then why we cannot have inland waterways? Can connecting rivers together will help this waterways or will it reduce the fights within the states, as we are witnessing now days. Krishna Kaveri Godawari? Teesta? Punjab and Haryana? What is this going on in India? Fight between two countries may be thought of something of a material. But within a free country and belonging to a great civilization where a little girl or a lady had sacrificed her life to revive thousands of humans and had to come in form of a river- Ganga. Bhagirathi has prayed for it? In that land, States are fighting over river water sharing??
Thus when somewhere a news item was published few years back tittled “work begins for journey from Haldia to Allahabad” i was happy. Since if this happens then we can take journey from Andaman Nicobar Islands to Haldia and then to Allahabad? But only question remained was, whether we have to change the ship at Haldia or the same ship will take us from Andaman to Kanpur-Bithoor? If that happens, That will be most happiest day in our life??