Shri Sonowal Assesses Progress and Future Plans for Inland Water Transport Development

Union Minister of Ports Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, visited the Noida Head Office of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on 25th June to take an update on the status of the 111 National Waterways in the country. He learned how inland waterways are emerging as a sustainable mode of transportation to complement existing road and rail networks.

While interacting with senior IWAI officials, Sonowal emphasized the need to develop national waterways and significantly increase passenger and freight movement on these waterways. He praised the efforts to promote river cruise tourism and highlighted recent initiatives such as the introduction of Hybrid Electric Catamaran vessels and the country’s first Hydrogen Vessel.

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW) remains steadfast in its commitment to developing a robust inland water transport system. By enhancing national waterways, MoPSW aims to boost economic growth and ensure efficient, sustainable transportation options for the nation.

Sarbananda Sonowal, Hon’ble Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways.

Additionally, the minister reviewed the progress of the World Bank-funded Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) on the National Waterway (NW) 1 – River Ganga. The Authority is enhancing waterways infrastructure by constructing Multi-Modal Terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj, and Haldia, and an Inter-Modal Terminal at Kalughat. These projects aim to facilitate freight movement and improve connectivity.

Sonowal also unveiled a five-year action plan for developing new national waterways, and collaboration with Northeastern Region (NER) states was highlighted, with a robust mechanism in place to ensure effective CSS project implementation.

He also assessed the interventions by the IWAI to promote waterway activities in the NER, especially NW 2, 16, and 31 – the Brahmaputra, Barak, and Dhansiri rivers in Assam. Initiatives to improve regional connectivity with neighboring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Myanmar were also evaluated.

The IWAI showcased new technologies to the minister, including initiatives like Portal for Assets and Navigational Information (PANI), River Information System (RIS), CAR-D for collection and compilation, analysis and dissemination of cargo and cruise movement data, and future projects like the Central Database and National River Traffic and Navigation System.

Cargo movement on national waterways has increased to over 133 million tons, recording a CAGR growth of 22.1% over ten years from FY 2014 to FY 2024. IWAI aims to increase the modal share of freight movement through IWT from 2% to 5% and traffic volume to more than 200 million metric tons (MMT) in line with the Maritime India Vision 2030, and over 500 MMT by 2047 as per the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047.

These vision documents formulated by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways aim to promote inland water transport in a significant way, ensuring a sustainable complementary mode of transportation in the country.

To enable inland waterways as conduits of economic growth and commerce in the country, an investment of INR 45,000 crore for the development of river cruise tourism has been planned. To enhance inland waterways for cargo trade, an investment of INR 15,200 crore was agreed upon at the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) held in Mumbai in October 2023. This investment is likely to register a growth rate of more than 400%, increasing the volume up to 500 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) by 2047.

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