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Union Budget 2019: Will the Ganges become a key trade route?

Union Budget 2019: Will the Ganges become a key trade route?

Union Budget 2019: Will the Ganges become a key trade route?
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By Jude Sannith  Jul 5, 2019 2:24:59 PM IST (Published)

Conspicuous by its absence from Budget 2019, was any mention of shipping, ports and defence — barring a reference to easing of basic customs duty on import of defence equipment not made in India. However, the first few minutes of Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman’s maiden Budget speech saw a clear focus on the government’s apparent intent to develop the river Ganges as a key inland waterway, for trade.

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“Navigation along waterways is expected to reduce the cost of transportation and enhance internal trade,” said Sitharaman, in the early part of her Budget speech. She added, “We need to develop inland waterways to shift inland cargo movement from road and rail (to waterways).”
In keeping with this plan, Sitharaman announced that a multi-modal cargo terminal at Varanasi had turned fully functional in November 2018, in order to enhance the potential of cargo movement along the Ganges. “Two more such terminals are being set up at Sahibganj and Haldia, along with a navigational lock, which will be completed by 2020,” said the finance minister, in her speech.
Sitharaman asserted that once these infrastructural projects were completed, cargo along the Ganges could see a significant spurt. “The movement of cargo volume across the Ganga will increase by four times in four years,” she said, adding that this could result in the reduction of import bills.
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