Lok Sabha passes the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017
December 20, 2017

The Lok Sabha on 19 December 2017 passed the Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017. The Bill seeks to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on 24 July 2017.

As per the Central Road Fund Act, 2000, the cess levied and collected on high speed petrol and diesel is distributed for development of rural roads, national highways, railways, state roads and border area roads.

The Central Road Fund (Amendment) Bill, 2017 seeks to allocate two and a half per cent of the funds collected to accelerate the development and maintenance of national waterways by reducing the equal percentage from the share of national highways.

The Bill is aimed at tentatively generating about Rs 2300 crore revenue for national waterways.

Why there is a need to amend the Central Road Fund Act, 2000?

• National Waterways provide cost effective, logistically efficient and environment friendly mode of transport.
• Its development as a supplementary mode will enable diversion of traffic from the over-congested roads and railways. 
• Last year, with the enactment of the National Waterways Act, 2016, the total number of national waterways totalled out to be 111. 
• However, infrastructure such as jetties, terminals, navigational channels continues to be a challenge for better shipping and commercial navigation. 
• In order to develop national waterways with modern infrastructure, sustainable source of funding is needed as a budgetary support as funds from multilateral institutions are inadequate. 
• One of the sustainable sources of funding for the development of waterways is to earmark certain per cent of cess levied and collected on high speed diesel and petrol under the Central Road Fund Act, 2000. 
• This allocation can be streamlined by amending the Act so as to accelerate the development of national waterways and also offer incentives and certainty for private sector to invest in inland waterways transport sector.