River Ganges aircraft
River Ganges is considered holy by Hindus in IndiaRupak De Chowdhuri/Reuters

The Indian government is planning to introduce amphibious aircraft over River Ganges, also known as Ganga, in a move to improve the waterways in the country. Ganga, the second largest river on the Indian continent by discharge, is considered to be one of the holiest rivers by Hindus in India.

Nitin Gadkari, the country's minister of road transport and highways and shipping, said the Modi administration is working on developing 111 waterways across India so as to boost transportation services.

"My target is to develop waterways in rivers. Parliament has given the consent to such five inland waterways in which Ganga and Brahmaputra are included. The target is to develop 111 such waterways," he said while addressing a public gathering in Lucknow.

He added: "There will be trade up to Bangladesh and Myanmar through waterways. An amphibious aircraft will be operated between Varanasi and Kolkata. It will be a cheaper mode of transport."

Ironically, though the river has been considered sacred by the Hindus, Ganges, which shelters a rich variety of species, is also one of the most polluted rivers in the world. Clean Ganga has been one of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's flagship policies since he took over power in May 2014.

"European countries also take time to clean their rivers. The Ganga will be cleaned in the next 10 years. It will be like the Thames in 20 years," said Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar. Though it remained one of the key policies of the Modi administration, critics also point out that pollution levels have not come down drastically in recent months, largely due to lack of funds and cumbersome bureaucratic processes.