Developing Inland Waterways In India: The Windmill Of Animal Farm

In socialism, bureaucracy soon learns that words ‘yes minister’ open gates to career development and plum postings.

Ministers, because of the powers to confer fortunes, attract lots of smart minds. Ministers, to get reelected, are always in search of doing something spectacular. And the smart minds are always ready with plans to build windmills of Animal Farm (The novel by George Orwell).

And so we had BRT in Delhi and Ahmedabad, both creating more problems than they solved.

Now, flavour of the season is “inland waterways.”

1. This in a country in which most rivers almost go dry after rainy season.

2. This in a country in which we have just completed four-laning of Golden Quadrilateral and the two diagonals.

3. This in a country in which Railway is about to start work on dedicated freight corridor.


Still, plans are afoot to throw 500000 crore rupees literally down the drain, to develop inland waterways.

As Railway has discovered, road transport beats cheaper Railway transport if the load is not bulk. Then why would anybody shift to waterway transport has not been explained by anybody.

The ships carry only bulk international cargo. Those big ships can never enter inland waterways, and anything smaller won’t be economical. Because small international cargo has already shifted to air.

Will anybody gather courage to say ‘no minister,’ and save this humungous waste of precious resources-Capital?

We do not need the waterways, and if constructed, nobody will use them. Only consultants and contractors will make lots of money, and many officers will retire with lots of awards.