Union Budget 2019-20: Call for port-led development

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Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Friday stressed the need to enhance port-led development through the Sagarmala scheme and develop inland waterways to use rivers for cargo movement to decongest road and rail networks, reduce the cost of transportation as well as cut oil import bill.

“Sagarmala would enhance port connectivity, modernisation and port-linked industrialisation. If Sagarmala is aimed at improving the infrastructure for external trade, equally it is the poor man’s transport, too. We need to develop our inland waterways to shift a significant portion of inland cargo movement from road and rail,” Ms. Sitharaman said.

She said cargo volume on the Ganga was expected to grow four times in the next four years. While a multi-modal terminal at Varanasi was launched last year, two more terminals at Sahibganj in Jharkhand and Haldia in West Bengal apart from a navigation lock at Farakka would be completed within the current fiscal.

In line with her announcement, the allocation for Sagarmala and the Inland Water Transport Authority of India was enhanced, though the total allocation for the Ministry of Shipping saw a marginal decline of 2% to ?1,902.56 crore.

The net allocation for Sagarmala schemes has gone up from ?381 crore to ?550 crore, an increase of 44%. The contribution to the Inland Water Transport Authority of India, too, went up from ?384.95 crore in the last fiscal to ?450 crore, a 17% increase.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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