Inland Waterways in India: A Background
- Inland Waterways Transport is the transportation of cargo over rivers, backwaters, canals and creeks.
Advantages of IWT
- IWT is the most inexpensive mode of transportation.
- According to RITES Report of 2014 on “Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid (INWTG)” the cost comparison is as below:
|Mode||Total Rs / Km|
- Low Capital Cost: Unlike road construction or railway track laying, IWT is natural mode i.e. water flow.
- Fuel efficient: 1 litre fuel can transport 105 tonne/km freight by waterways as compared to 24 tonne/km by road and 85 tonne/km by rail.
- Low maintenance cost at about 20% that of road.
- Besides IWT is environment friendly.
- Inland navigation does not involve congestion, noise emissions, air pollution and other externalities.
IWT potential in India
- India has an estimated 14500 km of navigable inland waterways, including river systems, canals, backwaters, creeks and tidal inlets.
- About 5200 km of major rivers and 485 km of canals are suitable for inland transport.
- However, IWT’s share in the cargo movement in India is less than 0.5%.
- Compared to 8.5% in USA, 8.3% in China, 38% in Netherlands, 24% in Belgium and 13% in Germany.
- 10% share of IWT in total transportation could reduce India’s transportation bill by at least Rs 10,000 crores.
What are National Waterways?
The principles for declaration of a national waterway are:
- Capability of navigation by mechanically propelled vessels.
- About 45 m wide channel and minimum 1.5m depth.
- It should be a continuous stretch of 50 kms.
- It should pass through more than one State.
- It should connect Major Ports.
- It should pass through a strategic region to provide logistic support for national security.
- It should connect places not served by any other modes of transport.
National Waterways in India
- As per The National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs).
- There were 5 NWs until 2016 when the Parliament declared another 106 waterways as NW across the country.
- Out of the 111 NWs, NW-1, 2, & 3 are already operational.
- Both cargo as well as passenger can ply on these waterways.
Section : Polity & Governance