Inland Waterways Development Council (IWDC) Unveils Ambitious Plans to Transform India’s Waterways

The inaugural meeting of the Inland Waterways Development Council (IWDC) in Kolkata marked a significant milestone in the revitalization of India’s inland water transport. Chaired by Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, the event gathered key stakeholders, including state ministers, policymakers, and industry leaders. Organized by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), the IWDC received participation from state ministers, senior government officials, and industry stakeholders.

During the meeting, IWDC announced a groundbreaking investment of INR 45,000 crore to boost river cruise tourism and enhance cargo trade on inland waterways. A substantial INR 35,000 crore has been allocated for cruise vessels, with an additional INR 10,000 crore earmarked for cruise terminal infrastructure by 2047. Another INR 15,200 crore, sanctioned during the Global Maritime India Summit in October 2023, aims to propel cargo trade, projecting a growth rate exceeding 400%, reaching 500 MTPA by 2047.

Sonowal highlighted the potential of India’s blue economy and emphasized the need to rejuvenate neglected waterways. The IWDC’s modern approach aligns with the goal of sustainable development, contributing to an Atmanirbhar Bharat.

The revival of the Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port in Kolkata, now achieving a net surplus of INR 550 crore for FY2023-24, demonstrates the success of strategic initiatives. The government’s commitment, as outlined in the Maritime India Vision 2030 and Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047, includes the Jal Marg Vikas Project and various infrastructure developments to enhance inland waterways transportation.

Sonowal’s launch of ‘Harit Nauka – Guidelines for Green Transition of Inland Vessels’ reflects a commitment to eco-friendly practices. Eight electric catamaran vessels strategically deployed for pilgrimage tourism showcase the potential of electric, hybrid, and alternative propulsion fuels in IWT.

With 46 identified initiatives, the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 underscores the development potential in India’s coastline, inland waterways, and coastal districts. These initiatives aim to elevate the modal share of coastal shipping and inland water transport, fostering inclusive growth and employment.

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