Gadkari wants foreign investment in waterways

Boosting the nation’s inland waterways network will be one of the biggest focus areas in 2015, Union Shipping and Surface Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Tuesday.

“It is my dream to have an inland waterways network just like the national highways… We will try to attract foreign investment in inland waterways,” he told journalists here.

The first step, he said, would be to develop the Varanasi-Haldia project for which the World Bank sanctioned Rs. 4,200 crore. The project on the Ganga would later be extended to Allahabad.

Mr. Gadkari said that increasing road safety was a continuing priority. The road transport and safety Bill was expected to be passed by Parliament next year; thereafter, minimum safety standards for all vehicles would be announced. “Some time by the middle of next year, minimum safety standards for all car models, economy or luxury, would be notified,” Surface Transport Secretary Vijay Chhibber told The Hindu .

Adherence to the minimum standards, which would be in line with the U.N. guidelines, would be voluntary for automobile companies for the first year, after which they would be made mandatory, he said.

Beyond the minimum standards, carmakers could offer star-rated models with enhanced safety features for a higher price.

The norms would require vehicles to pass crash tests with “no fatality” at 56 km/hour.

Mr. Gadkari said the government viewed the regularisation of e-rickshaws as a humanitarian issue. “It allows a poor person to make a living using technology to ferry passengers. It is better than the inhuman manual and cycle rickshaws. E-rickshaw should be compared to manual and cycle rickshaws and not to autorickshaws,” he said.

Says increasing road safety a continuing priority