Maritime Summit: Inland WaterWays in India

Last week Prime Minister inaugurated the second edition ‘Maritime India Summit 2021’ .Prime Minister also launched e-book of maritime vision 2030, which is aiming to make the Indian maritime industry at par with the top global benchmark in the next 10 years and announced that India aims to operationalize 23 waterways by 2030.


111 inland waterways (including 5 National Waterways declared earlier) were declared as ‘National Waterways’ under the National Waterways Act, 2016.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was constituted in October 1986, for the development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority undertakes various infrastructure development works on national waterways.

As per constitutional provisions, only those waterways which are declared as National Waterways come under the purview of Central Government while rest of waterways remain in the purview of respective State Government.

National Waterways
a. National Waterway (NW)-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system from Allahabad to Haldia) in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal. The Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly is the longest waterways in India stretched for 1620 km

b. NW-2 (River Brahmaputra from Dhubri to Sadiya) in Assam;

c. NW-3 (West Coast Canal from Kottapuram to Kollam along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals) in Kerala, have already been developed with fairway navigational aids, jetties and terminals with mechanized equipment handling facilities for loading and unloading of cargo. These NWs are operational and vessels are plying on them.

d. In addition, NW-10 (river Amba), NW-68 (river Mandovi), NW-73 (river Narmada), NW-83 (Rajpuri Creek), NW-85 (Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River System), NW-91 (Shastri river–Jaigad creek system), NW- 97 (Sunderbans Waterways), NW-100 (river Tapi) and NW-111 (river Zuari) are also operational.

The Sagarmala project which aims at connecting the major ports and many minor ports through road and rail network with hinterland connectivity.

Government has also started the Jalmarg Vikash Project with a view to developing an integrated inland water transportation system. Infrastructure development is a major part of this JMVP. This includes fairway development and dredging for maintaining a predetermined depth, River Information System and navigational aids, development of river terminals and river structures such as locks and barrages, vessel operation including inland craft construction and repair, revamping of existing facilities, bunkering facilities.  

In 2014, the Rakesh Mohan Committee, for the first time, brought in the idea of coordinated multimodal transport, and an integrated transport system with competitive pricing in the country. Taking into account new technologies and environmental concerns, it emphasised on developing transport capacity so as to decrease congestion, prevent ‘high levels of energy consumption, pollution and accidents’.

The Committee recommended intermodal linkage between the different transport systems, and integrated capital investment with regulatory and policy development.

  Inland Water Transport is fuel-efficient compared to other modes of transport, namely rail and road. Waterways are said to be cheap, environmentally friendly, and can help connect remote areas – especially in the north-eastern states.

But the planning to develop the Inland Water Transport should also take in account severe, wide-spread and extensive impacts of the waterways on rivers, river ecology and the livelihoods of communities dependent on them. At the same time, the legal and regulatory mechanism to assess and address these impacts needs to be addressed immediately.


Leave a Comment


Welcome! Login in to your account

Remember me Lost your password?

Lost Password