New Delhi-30-10-2014: The reform-minded Narendra Modi Government is considering riverside ports at major cities and industrial clusters on the Ganga to boost its \'Make in India\' initiative. Converting waterways into commerce way is now a priority for the government, a senior official said.For this, a detailed Request for Qualification (RFQ) tender will soon be issued to private players who are ready to manage and successfully run the system. Port infrastructure is planned at cities like Varanasi, Allahabad and Patna among others, the official added. The development comes following Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari\'s calculation which placed river transportation as the most cost-effective.
The Government will initially put in the capital required for constructing the infrastructure, while private players will manage the business aspect and share the revenue with the Government. The industry agrees, stating that inland waterways are substantially underused and such a development will help in further developing the sector. \"Inland waterways in India are substantially underused by international standards and so the Government is quite right to pursue this policy direction,\" Julian Michael Bevis, senior director, group relations, South Asia for The Maersk Group, said.
Bevis\' views are corroborated by Adil Zaidi, Director, Government and transaction advisory services, Ernst & Young, who said that a policy in this regard with standard bidding documents will help in mitigating risks and ease regulatory issues. \"Ports are being proposed to be developed along the riverside systems across India (like Mahanadi in Odisha and Sagar Island in West Bengal). A robust policy with standard bidding documents for such ports will help in mitigating risks and ease regulatory issues,\" Zaidi said. About 55 million tonnes of cargo is moved annually by inland water transport (IWT).