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Rs 40,000 crore annual saving, according to government estimates. "By promoting coastal shipping of across six commodities - thermal coal, steel, fertilizers, foodgrains and containers, the annual potential savings is estimated at about Rs 40,000 crore," the official told PTI. Government has already announced a port-led development of coastal areas under its ambitious Sagarmala project that aims at harness India's 7,500-km long coastline and 14,500-km of potentially navigable waterways.
"To encourage modal shift of cargo to coastal shipping and Inland Waterways Transportation, the government is planning to offer financial incentive to shippers who switch to waterways from roads and rails for movement of cargo," the official said, adding that the incentive is planned at Re 1 per tonne per km. Initially, the government plans to include 9 commodities that include foodgrain, automobile, cement and marble.

Sources said a note on the incentive scheme would soon be sent to the Cabinet for nod.

"Government is working hard to shift the cargo to waterways as is not only an environment-friendly mode of transportation but economise cost," Additional Secretary, Shipping Alok Srivastava said when contacted.

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