Inland Waterways

Inland Waterways

[pib] Assam Inland Water Transport ProjectPIB

Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Assam Inland Water Transport Project

Mains level : Inland water transport in India


India and the World Bank signed a loan agreement of $88 million for Assam Inland Water Transport Project.

Assam Inland Water Transport Project

  • A majority of Assam’s more than 361 ferry routes cross the Brahmaputra or serve its islands, providing a crucial means of transport to thousands of commuters in both the urban and rural areas of the Brahmaputra Valley.
  • The project will draw guidance from ‘working with nature’ principles that aim to design new infrastructure or rehabilitate existing infrastructure in a way that works with natural river processes.
  • The terminals will have better access, lighting and signage while the new vessels will allow for individual seats, and separate toilets. Moreover, a strengthened regulatory regime will ensure reduction in overloading, adherence to time schedule and better crew standards.
  • The Project will help Assam improve the passenger ferry infrastructure and its services and strengthen the capacity of the institutions running the inland water transport.

Significance

  • Inland Water Transport is also a more sustainable mode of transport. And Assam has the largest network of navigable waterways in India.
  • It provides low-carbon and low-cost options when compared to the cost of constructing and maintaining flood-resilient roads and bridges across the long stretches of the Brahmaputra river.
  • Technically better-designed terminals and energy-efficient vessels (both new and retrofitted) will make the ferry services more sustainable with least disruption to nature.
Inland Waterways

[pib] Least Available Depth Information System (LADIS) PortalPIB


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: LADIS Portal

Mains level: Enhancing transport with the help of Inland Waterways


News

  • Moving a step ahead towards ensuring optimum use of National Waterways, the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) launched a new portal LADIS – Least Available Depth Information System.

Least Available Depth Information System Portal

  1. IWAI has designed LADIS to facilitate the day to day operations of inland vessels plying on National Waterways and to avoid any hindrance in service and operation.
  2. It will enhance credibility and efficiency of information sharing to achieve seamless operations on National Waterways, besides pre-empting problems that may occur during movement of vessels.
  3. LADIS will ensure that real-time data on least available depths is disseminated for ship/barge and cargo owners so that they can undertake transportation on NWs in a more planned way.
  4. The portal being hosted on IWAI’s website iwai.nic.in has been developed in-house.
  5. Initially LAD information will be available for NW-1, NW-2, Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route and NW-3, along with the date of survey.

Utility of the Portal

  1. An assured depth of waterway is required for seamless movement of vessels.
  2. If real time information is made available regarding LADs in stretches of various NWs, it will help transporters by guiding them on the suitability of time of movement.
Inland Waterways

2nd phase of River Information SystemPrelims OnlyPriority 1


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NW-1, Jal Vikas Marg Project, RIS, Hilsa Fish

Mains level: Enhancing cargo transport with the help of Inland Waterways


News

  • To boost cargo movement on Ganga, Union Transport Minister has inaugurated the second phase of river information system (RIS) between Farakka and Patna.

River Information System (RIS)

  1. RIS is a combination of tracking and meteorological equipment with specialized software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.
  2. The system enables swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information so as to ensure navigation safety in inland waterways.
  3. It also provides virtual navigational aids to guide the vessel during navigation.
  4. It will help in crisis management and enhanced inland navigation safety by preventing ship-to-ship collisions, ship-bridge collisions, groundings etc.

Implementation of Phase II

  1. The project is aimed at boosting the movement of cargo and fishery development in river Ganga.
  2. Under phase II, five base stations – Manihari, Bhagalpur, Munger, Barh and Hatidah and one control station have been made at Patna.
  3. IWAI is implementing the project in three phases on NW-1.
  4. The inauguration of 2nd phase of RIS will enhance swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and base stations on shore through advance and real-time exchange of information.

Other phases of RIS

  1. Earlier, in 2016, the first phase of RIS – 545 km on Haldia- Farakka stretch was commissioned.
  2. Work on third, 356 kms Patna-Varanasi stretch is currently in progress.

Hilsa Fish

  1. Hilsa has a history of migrating to Allahabad in the Ganga river system from Bangladesh.
  2. Though it’s a saltwater fish, it migrates to sweet waters of the Ganges from the Bay of Bengal.
  3. It travels upstream of the river during the mating seasons and returns to its natural abode after spawning.

A passage for Hilsa Fish

  1. Fish pass/Fish way is a structure on or around artificial and natural barriers (such as dams, locks and waterfalls) to facilitate natural fish migration.
  2. Most fishways enable fish to pass around the barriers by swimming into the waters on the other side.
  3. Under Jal Marg Vikas Pariyojana, a fish pass has been envisaged for the free movement of Hilsa at Farakka Navigation Lock.
  4. After the construction of Farakka Navigation Lock in 1976, movement of Hilsa, which once reached up to Prayagraj also, was restricted up to Farakka only.
  5. Based on research and breeding season of Hilsa Fish, the operation of navigational lock will be regulated to facilitate Hilsa movement from Hoogly-Bhagirathi-River system to the upstream in river Ganga and vice-versa.
Inland Waterways

India’s 1st container movement on inland waterways beginsPrelims Only


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NW-1, Jal Vikas Marg Project

Mains level: Enhancing cargo transport with the help of Inland Waterways


News

Context

  • India’s first container vessel movement on the river Ganga (National Waterways-I) has began with the Inland Waterways Authority of India transporting container cargo belonging to the food and beverages giant PepsiCo (India) from Kolkata to Varanasi.

Particulars of the Shipment

  1. The vessel MV Rabindranath Tagore is transporting 16 containers equivalent to 16 truckloads of food and snacks through the river Ganga, and will reach Varanasi in 9-10 days.
  2. It will make its return journey with fertilizers from IFFCO that will be procured from its Phulpur plant near Allahabad.

Benefits

  1. The cargo movement to the east and northeastern states will become easier with the new mode of transportation through waterways.
  2. The container cargo transport reduces handling cost, allows for easier modal shift, decreases pilferage and damage, besides enabling cargo owners to lessen their carbon footprints.

About NW-1

  1. The central government is developing NW-1 (River Ganga) under Jal Marg Vikas Project form Haldia to Varanasi (1,390 km) at about Rs 5,369 crore with the technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.
  2. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with a capacity of 1,500-2,000 Tonnes.
Inland Waterways

[pib] IWAI Makes India’s First Standardized Modern Ship Design for Ganga a RealityPIBPrelims Only


Note4students

Mains Paper 3: Economy | Infrastructure: Energy, Ports, Roads, Airports, and Railways etc.

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: NWAI

Mains level: The newscard talks about development of shipbuilding industry and waterways thereby reducing load of logistics and transportation from Roadways.


News

Boosting Domestic Shipbuilding and Navigation

  1. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) made public 13 standardized state-of-the-art ship designs suitable for large barge haulage on river Ganga.
  2. It will help overcome the unique navigation challenges river Ganga throws due to its complex river morphology, hydraulics, acute bends, shifting channels, meanders and current.
  3. It will serve as an enabler for domestic shipbuilding industry working on inland vessels and open huge possibilities for cargo and passenger movement on National Waterway-1.

Improving Carrying Capacity

  1. The Government is implementing Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on NW-1 (Varanasi-Haldia stretch) with the technical assistance and investment support of the World Bank.
  2. The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts with high carrying capacity and at the same time, environment friendly.
  3. It is specialised in low draft and high carrying capacity vessels.
  4. The new designs will translate into a savings of Rs 30-50 lakhs in the building of a vessel.
  5. The new designs will obviate the dependence of Indian Ship builders on foreign ship designs for IWT and prove to be a boost to ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government.

Freely Available Design for all

  1. Available free on the IWAI website, the designs will remove ambiguity on the class and type of vessels that can sail on river Ganga with efficient maneuverability.
  2. They will help shipyards build vessels of standardized dimensions and capacity and make them available off the shelf besides developing the ‘sale and purchase’ market for inland vessels.
  3. The designs will lead to reduced fuel costs and in turn lesser logistics costs.

Details of the Design

  1. The new designs for various categories of dry and liquid bulk carrier, Ro-Ro vessels, car carrier, container carrier, LNG carrier, Tug Barge flotilla (Table below) have been made by M/s DST, Germany.
  2. These vessels will sail even in depths of about two metres carrying about 350 cars on a five deck car carrier.
  3. Some of the designs would enable movement of bulk cargo carriers with capacity of 2500 tonnes at three metres depth.
  4. Thus it will help removing almost 150 truckloads of pressure from the road or one full rail rake with the plying of just one such vessel.
Inland Waterways

[pib] IWAI sets out on large public outreach along Ganga for Jal Marg Vikas ProjectPIBPrelims Only


Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

Mains level: Enhancing hinterland connectivity with the help of Inland Waterways


News

Context: Inland Waterways Authority of India held a two day long intensive advocacy and communications outreach at Sahibganj and Rajmahal in Jharkhand.

Aimed at boosting rural economy

  1. These interventions are set to change the socio-economic landscape of the land-locked region which has missed the development.
  2. Participants included people from diverse backgrounds – NGO, Panchayat Members, Village Pradhans, Farmers, Fisherman, Boatmen and other local community.
  3. The IWAI is working with State Livelihood Missions for imparting necessary skill training for the youth, boatmen and other community members so that they could benefit from the employment opportunities, informed the IWAI officials who conducted the outreach programmes.

Easing Transportation

  1. The construction of the multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj will provide critical last mile connectivity to the hinterland of Jharkhand, the state richly endowed with mineral resources.
  2. The multi-modal terminal at Sahibganj will play an important role in transportation of domestic coal from the local mines in Rajmahal area to various thermal power plants located along NW-1.
  3. Other than coal, stone chips, fertilizers, cement and sugar are other commodities expected to be transported through the terminal.

Back2Basics

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

  1. It is aimed for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 (NW-1) Varanasi to Haldia.
  2. It will impact the ongoing process by creating :
  • An alternative mode of transport that will be environment-friendly and cost-effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country
  • Mammoth Infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids
  • Socio-economic impetus; huge employment generation.
Inland Waterways

[pib] Cabinet approves Jal Marg Vikas Project for enhanced navigation on the Haldia-Varanasi stretch of National Waterway-1PIB


Note4Students

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

Mains level: Inland Waterways bill and measures being taken to develop waterways


News: 

  • Approval for implementation of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway-1 (NW-1)

Major Impact

  • An alternative mode of transport that will be environment-friendly and cost-effective. The project will contribute in bringing down the logistics cost in the country
  • Mammoth Infrastructure development like multi-modal and inter-modal terminals, Roll on – Roll off (Ro-Ro) facilities, ferry services, navigation aids
  • Socio-economic impetus; huge employment generation.

States/districts covered

  • States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal
  • Major Districts:   Varanasi, Ghazipur, Ballia, Buxar, Chhapra, Vaishali, Patna, Begusarai, Khagaria, Munger, Bhagalpur, Sahibganj, Murshidabad, Pakur, Hoogly, Kolkata

Back2Basics

National Waterways

  1. Under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 inland waterways have been declared as National Waterways (NWs) in addition to the five existing NWs
  2. The Act came into force from 12 April 2016
  3. Under Entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central government can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law
  4. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India
  5. It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration
Inland Waterways

Cabinet approval to be sought for waterways project by December


  1. What: The Union Shipping Ministry will now seek Cabinet approval for the Jal Marg Vikas project
  2. Why: The National Waterways-1 is being implemented under it
  3. It involves developing a 1,620-km navigable waterway between Haldia and Varanasi
  4. The entire project is expected to facilitate navigation of commercial vessels with capacity upto 2000 tons
  5. West Bengal is expected to be the transportation hub for North East
  6. The World Bank has sanctioned a loan that would fund 50% of the project cost, efforts were on to raise other resources to minimise the loan requirement
Inland Waterways

Gadkari to lay foundation stone of multi-modal terminal at Varanasi


  1. News: The foundation stone for a multi-modal terminal at Varanasi will be laid and the trial run of two vessels will be flagged offas a part of National Waterway-1 development
  2. Phase-I: Will be built by AFCONS Infrastructure at an estimated cost of Rs.170 crore and is slated to completed by August 2018
  3. Connectivity: The terminal will have road and rail connectivity with proposed links on NH-7 and Jeonathpur railway station respectively
  4. Cargo: Handling capacity of the multi-modal terminal is estimated to be 1.2 million metric tonnes per annum and it will handle cement and food grains among others
Inland Waterways

Plan to harness 50k Km waterfront


  1. Context: The government is looking to harness the country’s 50,000 km of sea and river fronts as waterways
  2. Steps: Mulling innovative ways of financing to raise around Rs 70,000 crore to develop these stretches in the first phase
  3. Last week Parliament passed a Bill to declare 111 rivers across India into National Waterways
  4. So far, only 5 of the river stretches were declared as National Waterways
Inland Waterways

Developed waterways will change India


  1. Context: Parliament has passed a crucial bill to declare 111 rivers across the country into National Waterways
  2. News: Govt. will harness the country’s 50,000 km of sea and river fronts as waterways
  3. Finance: It will use innovative ways to raise around Rs. 70,000 crore to develop these stretches in the first phase
  4. Future: The bill paves the way for development of these stretches as transport carriers
  5. Current Status: Only 5 river stretches had been declared as National Waterways
Inland Waterways

Development of National Waterway-1 under Jal Marg Vikas Project


  1. News: Govt is developing National Waterway-1 (NW-1) under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank
  2. About NW-1: 1620 km Haldia-Allahabad stretch of River Ganga
  3. The project would be completed over a period of 6 yrs at an estimated cost of Rs. 4,200 crore
  4. Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch
  5. Project includes: development of multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS) etc.
Inland Waterways

Govt. plans boost to water transport


  1. The Union govt is working on a strategy to increase the movement of goods and passengers through waterways by nearly five-fold from a mere 3.5% now to 15% by 2019.
  2. To encourage transportation of goods by coastal shipping, service tax has been brought on par with road and rail transport.
  3. Govt. has taken steps for the modernisation, mechanisation & computerisation of the coastal shipping system to promote transparency.
  4. The govt had taken a decision to start 3 major ports at a cost of Rs.18,000 crore to Rs.20,000 crore, in Maharashtra, TN and West Bengal.
Inland Waterways

River Information System (RIS) Launched to Facilitate Safe, Accurate Navigation


The system enhances swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (Base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information.

  1. The first of its kind in India, the new system will facilitate safe and accurate navigation on National Waterway – 1 on the Ganges River.
  2. RIS is being implemented under the overall responsibility of Inland Waterway Authority of India, a statutory body administered by the Ministry of Shipping.
  3. RIS are combination of modern tracking equipment related hardware and software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation.
  4. Phase- II of the River Information System from Farakka to Patna and Phase-III from Patna to Varanasi would also be implemented on priority.
Inland Waterways

Lok Sabha passes The National Waterways Bill, 2015


The bill aims at declaring 106 additional inland waterways as National Waterways in addition to the five existing National Waterways.

  1. The National Waterways Bill, 2015 repeals the 5 Acts that declare the existing national waterways.
  2. This will pave way for the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways.
  3. The total number of national waterways numbers will go up to 111 from existing five national waterways.
  4. Declaration of these National Waterways would enable Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) to develop the feasible stretches for Shipping and Navigation.
  5. Inland waterways comprise mainly rivers, lakes, canals, creeks and backwaters.
Inland Waterways

Waterways Bill likely to be passed this session


  1. The National Waterways Bill seeks to convert 101 rivers in the country into waterways.
  2. While countries like China, Korea have more than 40% of their traffic over inland waterways, this number is only 3.5% in India.
Inland Waterways

Godavari to be declared national waterway


It would lay the foundation stone for four-laning the national highway from Yadagirigutta to Warangal.

  1. The Centre agreed to include the stretch of the river Godavari from Nasik in Maharashtra to Rajahmundry in Andhra Pradesh in the revised National Waterways Bill, 2015.
  2. The National Waterways Bill was tabled in the parliament in May for declaring an additional 101 inland waterways as national waterways.
  3. The bill was examined by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture.
  4. It recommended, a revised bill be tabled during the next session by including the stretch of Godavari from Nasik to Rajahmundry.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India.

Inland Waterways

An irrigation landmarkop-ed snap


India’s first river-linking project in Andhra Pradesh, linking rivers Godavari and Krishna has been accomplished within six months.


 

  1. Popularly known as Pattiseema Project,as the lift scheme is being constructed at a village of the same name in west Godavari district at a cost of Rs 1,300 crore.
  2. The project marks the realisation of the grand idea of inter-linking of rivers, which remained a pipe dream at national level for the past several decades.
  3. An agreement between Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh allows AP to divert 80 tmc of water from the Godavari to meet the needs of the Krishna delta.
  4. By linking the two rivers, the Naidu government hopes to bring relief to around 1.2 million acres in Krishna and Guntur districts, which face severe water shortage as inflows from upstream Krishna have become increasingly uncertain.
  5. The joining of these two rivers is aimed broadly at harnessing part of the floodwaters of the Godavari, which now flow wastefully into the Bay of Bengal.
  6. About 10 per cent of this water will be used to irrigate paddy fields in the water-scarce Krishna delta; this might help make perpetually water-starved Rayalaseema drought-proof.
  7. The Godavari-Krishna link is actually part of the much larger and much more ambitious Mahanadi-Godavari-Krishna-Pennar-Cauvery-Vaigai river interlinking project.
  8. This extensive river network is one of the components of a grandiose long-term plan to put in place a nationwide water grid by creating 30 major river links and 37 relatively minor intrastate river links.
Inland Waterways

Nitin Gadkari’s 5 big-ticket projects to modernise inland waterways


  • 101 National Waterways

India has numerous rivers, canals, creeks, lakes that can be developed as inland waterways, but only five waterways have been declared as national waterways (NWs)


  • Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid

All the 5 declared NWs cannot be joined to create a national waterway grid, but at least three can form a grid in the East.


  • Jal Marg Vikas (River Ganga)

World Bank-assisted project to develop for navigation the Haldia-Allahabad stretch on National Waterways-1.

NW-1 passes through four states and potentially serves the cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi and Allahabad and several industries located along the Ganga basin.


  • Yamuna Rejuvenation Action Plan

Make the river usable for navigation, water transport etc.


  • Cruise Tourism

Easier Immigration Procedures : Visa on Arrival shortly to be given to 114 countries at airports must be extended to seaports.

Cabotage Waiver: Currently foreign vessels calling on Mumbai cannot take Indian passengers who may want to go up to Goa or Kochi.

Development of Lakshadweep as a cruise destination: The Lakshadweep Islands can be developed like the Maldives

 

Inland Waterways

Govt plans to convert 101 rivers into national waterways


Interview with Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India.

 

How do you plan to develop 101 waterways when even the 5 declared so far are yet to be fully developed? what’s different now?

Reasons –  delays in pre-feasibility and techno-economic feasibility status, difficulties in land acquisition and coordination with state government.

What now – 101 water bodies with a minimum length of 25 km are proposed to be declared as national waterways. This will expedite the focussed studies.


 

Isn’t it difficult and expensive to make waterways navigable? What needs to be done?

  • State governments have to be on board.
  • We are also looking at the best design and combination of vessels.
  • We also have differential global positioning systems (GPS) installed at national waterways 1 and 2.

 

Where will the funding come from?

World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Also exploring public-private partnerships.

 

Inland Waterways

First river info system in August



 

 

  1. India is set to deploy its first world-class river information system (RIS) by the end of August in the Sagar-Farakka section of National Waterway (NW) 1, the stretch with the highest traffic.
  2. The RIS will function like air traffic control to ensure smooth flow of vessels and cargo on the waterway.
  3. How is this going to help the Indian Economy in a longer/ shorter run?

Since thermal power plants, cement and fertiliser companies, and Food Corporation of India have expressed interest in using NW 1 as a cheap and clean form of transport, the RIS would act as a catalyst in promoting waterways.

What are the major checkpoints in the NW1 stretch?

National Waterways Bill 2015: Time to take to Water

 

The approval of the National Waterways Bill, 2015, by both Houses of Parliament clears the decks for increasing the use of India’s extensive network of rivers, canals and other water stretches for transport. Let’s see this in brief.


Under bill, 106 additional inland waterways will be added to the list of national waterways, taking the number to 111

Under Entry 24 of the Union List of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the central govt can make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament by law

Let’s see background of Inland Waterway Transport

<Why Govt has cleared decks for National waterways?>

  • Inland Water Transport is considered as the most cost effective and economical mode of transport from the point of view of fuel efficiency
  • One horse power can carry 4000 Kg load in water whereas, it can carry 150 Kg and 500 Kg by road and rail respectively
  • Further in a study as highlighted by the World Bank, 1 litre of fuel can move 105 ton-Km by inland water transport, whereas the same amount of fuel can move only 85 ton-Km by rail and 24 ton-Km by road
  • Studies have shown that emission from container vessels range from 32-36 gCO2 per ton-Km while those of road transport vehicles (heavy duty vehicles) range from 51-91gCO2 per ton-km.(Environment friendly)
  • Many countries in Europe and elsewhere carry over 40% of their passenger and freight traffic through water. But in India this proportion is only 3.5 per cent
  • Inland water transport’s share in the country’s total transport sector is less than 0.4%
  • This is partly because of the inability to shift cargo between modes of transport without disruption

Let’s learn about five existing and one proposed waterway


 

  1. Allahabad-Haldia Stretch of the Ganga Bhagirathi-Hooghly River
  2. Sadiya-Dhubri Stretch of Brahmaputra River
  3. Kollam-Kottapuram Stretch of West Coast Canal and Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals
  4. Kakinada-Puducherry Stretch of Canals and the Kaluvelly Tank
    Bhadrachalam-Rajahmundry Stretch of River Godavari and Wazirabad-Vijayawada Stretch of River Krishna
  5. Talcher-Dhamra Stretch of Rivers, Geonkhali-Charbatia Stretch of East Coast Canal, Charbatia-Dhamra Stretch of Matai River and Mahanadi Delta Rivers
  6. This is a proposed national waterway b/w Lakhipur and bhanga of the Barak river

What are the Benefits of inland waterways?

  • Recognised as fuel efficient, cost effective and environment friendly mode of transport, especially for bulk goods, hazardous goods and over dimensional cargos
  • Reduces time, cost of transportation of goods and cargos, as well as congestion and accidents on highways
  • Immense potential for domestic cargo transportation as well as for cruise, tourism and passenger traffic.
  • Systematic development will open up progressive economic and transport opportunities in the country
  • Open up considerable investment and business opportunities in the areas like water-based tourism, construction and operation of terminals, creation of storage accommodation, and provision of other facilities required for smooth water-based navigation
  • Help to generate millions of new jobs

Are there any limitations/ problems to implement this national waterway project?
If any, How to solve those limitations?

  • India’s water channels will need to have adequate width, depth and air clearance. Many rivers are seasonal, with water flows declining sharply after the monsoon
  • Navigating such rivers in the lean season may, therefore, require regular and extensive dredging and desilting
  • Higher water salinity, especially in the coastal regions and estuaries, and constant inflow of silt in the rivers can also be problematic
  • Water highways will require more river ports with their support infrastructure – road and rail connections, warehouses and other services
  • Heavy investment will be needed also to procure equipment, including dredgers, shipping vessels and barges of different sizes

What are the sources of funding and finances?

  • Financial approval of the competent authority for each waterway would be taken based on outcome of techno-economic feasibility studies, that are being undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
  • IWAI will develop the feasible stretch of National Waterways for shipping and navigation purpose through mobilization of financial resources
  • Govt will explore multiple sources of finance, including market borrowings and tapping the National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) and the Central Roads Fund  (CRF)

<The National Clean Energy Fund (NCEF) is a fund created in 2010-11 using the carbon tax – clean energy cess – for funding research and innovative projects in clean energy technologies of public sector or private sector entities, upto the extent of 40% of the total project cost. The Fund is designed as a non lapsable fund under Public Accounts>

<Central Road Fund (CRF) is a non-lapsable fund created under Section 6 of the Central Road Fund Act, 2000 out of a cess/tax imposed by Union Govt on consumption of Petrol and High Speed Diesel to develop and maintain National Highways, State roads (particularly those of economic importance and which provides inter-state connectivity), rural roads, railway under/over bridges etc.> 

To know what is cess, how it is different from tax and surcharge, click here

  1. Private participation in infrastructure is needed – but will be possible only if such ventures become economically viable. For this, they will require adequate and assured 2-way traffic
  2. But the traffic in bulk goods, such as coal, minerals, food grain, fertiliser and similar other commodities is often unidirectional, compelling the vessels to return empty or under-loaded. This aspect will need to be weighed and addressed

    Published with inputs from Arun

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