Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) is going to become the first automaker to transport vehicles using waterways in the country. The company would ship cars from Varanasi to Kolkata on National Waterway-I, told Nitin Gadkari, Union Minister of Road Transport & Highways and Shipping, Government of India. It was being learnt during the Question Hour in Rajya Sabha, that a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed between Inland Waterways Authority of India and Maruti Suzuki for transportation of cars through inland waterways.
Nitin Gadkari also went on to say that he would inaugurate two ships from Varanasi - one ferrying the Maruti cars and other carrying construction materials, on August 12, 2016. Maruti Cars would be shipped as a part of the pilot-run from August 12. Gadkari further revealed that waterways share in transportation in India is a petty 3.6 percent as compared to China, where it is nearly 47 percent. Even countries like Japan and Korea have the share of waterways in transportation over 40 percent, and it has played a pivotal role in their development. The Minister said that efforts are being made to ensure that India's 3.6 percent share goes upto 7 percent by 2018. The European countries too are immensely benefitted from the intra-country water transporation.
In Rajya Sabha, a discussion also took place on the thick traffic in Mumbai and the possible ways to decongest it by developing waterways. Replying to this, Gadkari explained in detail about the initiatives being taken in Mumbai and Thane. However, concerns were expressed about the impact that development of waterways would have on fishing communities. But, the Minister, clearing the air, said that it wouldn't have a negative impact on the fishermen as with a river traffic system in place, fishermen will get better information about the possibility of floods through the GPS. Moreover, it would ensure that they are able to increase their fishing output.