Inland Water Transport (IWT) is a fuel efficient, environment friendly and cost-effective mode of transport having potential to supplement the overburdened rail and congested roads. Most of the bulk cargo within India is transported via rail and road as opposed to coastal or inland shipping. For instance, more than 61% of the total thermal coal transported in India is via rail and more than 90% of the rail routes relevant to coal are running at over 100% utilization. India is expected to become the world’s largest coking coal importer by 2025 due to expansion in steel production in the country. This will create tremendous pressure on the already congested railways. Hence, there is a great opportunity to develop inland shipping for transporting bulk cargo within the country.
India has nearly 15,330 km of navigable inland waterways with substantial unexplored potential. Out of these ~4,000 km has been designated as five National Waterways. Besides, these five NWs, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is developing and maintaining the Indian side of Sunderbans waterways under the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol.
Existing National Waterways (NWs) includes NW 1 Ganga – Bhagirathi – Hooghly river system (Allahabad – Haldia, Length 1620 km); NW 2 River Brahmaputra (Dhubri – Sadiya, Length 891 km); NW 3 West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kollam); NW 4 Kakinada – Puducherry canals (Length 1078 km); NW 5 East Coast Canal (Length 588 km).
Apart from the NWs, there are two other important waterways for IWT namely Goa Waterways and Mumbai Waterways. Currently cargo movement is undertaken on NW 1, NW 2, NW 3, Goa Waterways and Maharashtra Waterways. NW 4 and NW 5 are yet to be operationalized.
Established in 1986, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was formed to harness the potential of IWT and since then it has been striving towards development and regulation of inland waterways. It is also responsible for conducting surveys, investigations and techno-economic feasibility analysis for developing inland water transport mode.
Government of India has notified 106 additional waterways as National Waterways in 2016. In addition to notification of NWs, the government has also undertaken initiatives for speeding infrastructure development which include Jal Vikas Marg for NW 1, Arth Ganga and Arth Brahmaputra for holistic and sustainable development leveraging NW 1 and NW 2 for freight and passenger movement, Inland Vessels Bill, Land Use Policy for IWs, Dredging Policy for IWs, and promoting private participation in terminal operations and maintenance.
As a result of various initiatives, the total cargo volume transported through inland waterways in India reached 73.6 MTPA in 2019-20 and has grown at a CAGR of 19% over last five years .
While the Inland Water Transport sector has grown over the last few years, there is significant potential to leverage unused potential of water transport in India. The modal share of IWT in freight movement is 2% which indicates a conspicuous room for further growth.
Some of the bottlenecks in development of IWT include
Inland Water Transport- Key driver for logistics sector
Inland Water Transport has an edge over other surface transport modes in terms of fuel efficiency and cost of transportation.
Sea plane tourism is a highly developed global market with multiple unique tourism and leisure opportunities. The market is primarily dominated by USA and Canada (over 80% of the global market). India, with 111 waterways and 200+ ports, offers a significant market for expanding Sea planes tourism and transportation.
Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has initiated the process of commencing operations of the Seaplane services, on the select routes, under a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) framework through prospective airline operators. The project execution and implementation is planned through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), which is under the administrative control of the Ministry.
The proposed Origin-Destination pairs under Hub and Spoke model include various islands of Andaman & Nicobar and Lakshadweep, Guwahati Riverfront & Umranso Reservoir in Assam, Yamuna Riverfront / Delhi (as Hub) to Ayodhaya, Tehri, Srinagar(Uttrakhand), Chandigarh and many other tourist places of Punjab & HP; Mumbai (as Hub) to Shirdi, Lonavala, Ganpatipule; Surat (as Hub) to Dwarka, Mandvi & Kandla; Khindsi Dam, Nagpur & Erai Dam, Chandrapur (in Maharashtra) and/or any other Hub & Spoke suggested by the Operator.
Seaplane projects will provide faster and hassle-free travel option for the long, treacherous and hilly regions of the country. Till now, 16 seaplane routes have been identified under Regional Connectivity Routes under UDAN scheme. Sabarmati and Sardar Sarovar- Statue of Unity route is included in these 16 sea plane routes and hydrographic surveys of this route have been completed.
The 16 locations have been prioritized for Water Aerodromes development in partnership with Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA) under the Udaan scheme 4.0
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