Inland Water Transport needs further promotion and policy implementations

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Inland Water Transport needs further promotion and policy implementations

  • As per Maritime India Vision (MIV) 2030 document, cargo movement on National Waterways is targeted as 200 MMT by 2030.
  • The data pertaining to movement of passengers on the existing waterways is not maintained by IWAI.

Major Waterways and Cargo movement

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Cargo/Traffic movement from Apr 2021 till Feb 2022

State/UTNational WaterwaysApr-2021 to Feb-2022 (Metric Tonnes)
U.P., Bihar, Jharkhand, W. BengalNW-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System (Haldia-Allahabad))90,69,963
AssamNW-2 (Brahmaputra River (Dhubri-Sadiya))3,66,149
KeralaNW-3 (West Coast Canal)15,39,367
A.P.NW-4 (Krishna Godavari River Systems)1,04,24,788
OdishaNW-5 (East Coast Canal And Matai River/Brahmani-Kharsua-Dhamra Rivers/Mahanadi Delta Rivers)14,538
.Sub Total (National Waterways 1-5)2,14,14,805

Steps taken for growth of cargo transportation

Initiatives For Growth Of Traffic On National Waterways

  • Fairway development works: To ensure Least Available Depth (LAD) of 3.0 meter in Haldia-Barh, 2.5 meter in Barh-Ghazipur and 2.2 meter in Ghazipur-Varanasi stretches on NW-1.

  • These are under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) which has been undertaken by IWAI with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.

  • to improve the connectivity between NW-1 and NW-2/NW-16 via the Indo Bangladesh protocol route, being jointly developed by India and Bangladesh.

  • Fairway development works are being carried out on NW-97 in Sunderbans to allow smooth navigation of vessels on the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol Route.

  • Comprehensive development of National Waterway-2 has been undertaken by IWAI under a Project approved by the Government at the cost of Rs. 461 Cr..

  • The project includes:

    • Maintenance dredging besides construction of a Multi Modal Terminal at Jogighopa,
    • Alternative road connectivity to Pandu Port,
    • Ship repair facility at Pandu, fairway development,
    • O&M of navigational aids,
    • O&M of fixed & floating terminals,
    • O&M of vessels, consultancy trailing, maintenance of e-portal etc.
  • Development of New National Waterways:

  • IWAI has identified 26 new NWs through techno-economic feasibility studies for undertaking technical interventions to make the waterways navigable for transportation purposes.

  • Ro-Ro/Ro-Pax Service Commenced in Various National Waterways:

Vessel NameRo-Ro/Ro-Pax Service
MV Rani Gaidinliu & MV Sachin Dev BarmanNeamati and Kamalabari(Majuli)
MV JFR JacobGuwahati and North Guwahati
MV Bob KhathingDhubri and Fakirganj (U/S Hatsingimari)
MV Adi Shankara & MV C.V. RamanWellingdon Island and Bolghaty
  • Revision of Levy & Collection of Fees: To promote Inland Waterways as a supplementary mode of transport, the government waived waterway user charges initially for a period of three years.

Digital Solutions For Ease-Of-Doing Business

  • CAR-D (Cargo Data) Portal: It is a web based portal for collection & compilation, analysis and dissemination of all cargo and cruise movement data of National Waterways to the stakeholders.
  • PANI (Portal for Asset & Navigation Information): It is an integrated solution bringing river navigation and infrastructure information on a single platform.
  • It provides detailed information of various features of National Waterways and the assets such as:
    • Fairway,
    • Infrastructure facilities,
    • Cross-river structures,
    • Connectivity at jetties,
    • Emergency services for facilitating transportation of cargo.

Enhanced regional trade using IWT mode

  • Addition of new Ports of Call and routes in India and Bangladesh under PIWT&T: With 7 new ports of call in addition the accessibility of IWT mode for trade between India and Bangladesh is expected to increase and result in growth of traffic on NWs.
  • Trade between Bhutan and Bangladesh: Stone exporters from Bhutan have identified Inland waterways as an alternate mode of transportation considering the benefits associated.
  • Benefits such as:
    • Lower transportation cost,
    • Larger shipment size compared to road,
    • Avoiding congestion on land routes etc.
  • The first movement under supervision of IWAI was successfully executed in July 2019.
  • This trade using the IWT mode is expected to continue and reach a significant scale in the coming years.

Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for facilitating the Stakeholders to use Inland Water Transport and access the various information related to National Waterways

  • SOP Agreement on the use of Chattogram and Mongla Ports for movement of goods to and from India between Bangladesh and India.
  • SOP of MoU on Passenger and Cruise Services on the Coastal and Protocol Route between Bangladesh and India.
  • SOP for the MoU on use of Inland Waterways for Transportation of Bilateral Trade and Transit cargoes between Bangladesh and India.
  • SOP for the Movement of Vessels on Protocol on Inland Water Transit and Trade (PIWT&T) to contain the spread of COVID19.
  • SOP and Checklist for Ro-Ro / Ro-Pax vessel operations on National Waterways.
  • SOP for Car-D Portal.

Stakeholder consultations

  • IWAI carried out stakeholder consultations at six different locations (Kolkata, Kochi, Mumbai, Patna, Goa and Dhaka) in FY-20 and 9 conference-cum-webinars during FY-21.
  • It promoted waterways as a mode of transportation and understanding expectations and feedback of stakeholders.
  • IWAI is undertaking targeted initiatives to address the expectation and feedback received to further enhance traffic on NWs.


India has a vast coastline of nearly 7,000 kilometers and is strategically placed along vital international commerce routes in the Indian Ocean.

Capacity limits and a lack of modern facilities at Indian ports, on the other hand, significantly lengthen the time it takes to carry goods in and out of the nation, limiting India's share of global trade.

Exam Track

Prelims Takeaway

  • Major Waterways
  • Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)
  • Regional trade using IWT mode

Mains Takeaway

Q. “The development and proper access of Inland Waterways could be another artery of Indian transport infrastructure.” Examine.