Inland waterways mark steady growth in traffic

India’s inland waterways have reported steady growth in traffic, marking a success for the Government of India’s plan to develop the medium as an economical and environment-friendly supplementary mode of transport to railways and roadways

March 5, 2020

At present, the total cargo volume of around 72.3 million tonnes are being moved annually on the operational national waterways across India

The Government is currently building 111 inland waterways, including 25 inter-state waterways, covering a distance of over 20,100 km

The Government is further boosting the capacity of NW-1 with an investment of around US$730 million and assistance from the World Bank

Following the feasibility studies on 106 new routes, 20 new national waterways have been found technically feasible for development

India’s inland waterways have reported steady growth in traffic, marking a success for the Government of India’s plan to develop the medium as an economical and environment-friendly supplementary mode of transport to railways and roadways. At present, the cargo volume of around 72.3 million tonnes is being moved annually on the operational national waterways across India. The Government is currently building 111 inland waterways, including 25 inter-state waterways, covering a distance of over 20,100 km. When fully operational, these waterways will be key to building a strong national economy.

Presently, the completed and operational national waterways include – NW-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system from Allahabad to Haldia) covering Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, and West Bengal; NW-2 (Brahmaputra river from Dhubri to Sadiya) in Assam; and NW-3 (West Coast Canal from Kottapuram to Kollam, along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals) in Kerala. These have been developed with fairway navigational aids, jetties and terminals with mechanized equipment handling facilities for loading and unloading of cargo. The utilisation of these routes has aided strong business growth.

The Government is further boosting the capacity of NW-1 with an investment of around US$730 million and assistance from the World Bank. 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) have been made operational. More infrastructure is also being developed on the Krishna river. Meanwhile, feasibility studies have been completed for 106 new national waterways. 

Following the feasibility studies and detailed project reports on 106 routes, 20 new national waterways have been found technically feasible for the development of shipping and navigation in addition to the five existing national waterways by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). Out of the new routes, development work has been initiated on 10 waterways. These include waterways in the states of Assam, Bihar, Goa, Kerala, West Bengal, and Uttar Pradesh. Over the last five years, the Government of India has invested around US$475 million in developing national waterways across India.