After Maruti Suzuki signed a pact with the government for transportation of vehicles through inland waterways, Mahindra & Mahindra (M&M) and Honda are also trying for one.
According to sources, the latter two are in talks with the ministry of shipping and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) for using water transport to take vehicles from their factories, mainly to cut logistics cost. IWAI and the ministry are deliberating on the details of cost, savings and carrying capacity.
According to a government official, the Centre might have to buy new ships to meet these customers’ need. The latter have sought big-size vessels if the proposition is to be viable for them. They want vessels that can carry at least 80 vehicles, the official said. M&M has factories in Maharashtra, West Bengal, Tamil Nadu and Uttarakhand and using waterways to transport vehicles could cut their transportation and logistics cost. Honda proposes to ferry vehicles from its Greater Noida factory to Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh and to other locations.
Domestic ship building companies could be engaged for construction of the needed vessels. The government is also contemplating changes to the existing ones, to expand their carrying capacity.
Maruti Suzuki India presently transports vehicles from its Gurgaon factory via inland waterway to Haldia in West Bengal, to be taken to South India from there.
The National Waterways Act, that came into being in March, says 111 rivers are to be converted into national waterways. Water transportation cost is estimated at 50p a km, compared to Rs 1 a km by rail and Rs 1.5 a km by road.