Steps are on to operationalise waterways and increase freight traffic volumes through this mode of transport under the Sagarmala project, the government today said.
Ways to increase the share of inland waterways in India’s modal mix to reduce logistics costs with minimal investment, as envisioned in the Sagarmala National Perspective plan was discussed in a workshop today, the Ministry of Shipping said in a statement.
“The workshop deliberated on the freight traffic potential in National Waterways 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 additional inland waterways identified for early development,” the statement said.
Besides, the scope for leveraging the Indo-Bangladesh agreement on coastal shipping and extended protocol routes on inland water transit was also discussed.
“This will enable cheaper movement of cargo to and from North East India and will decongest the road and rail networks, via Siliguri corridor, which are currently being utilised for the same,” the statement said.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) representatives highlighted the infrastructure development work currently being undertaken to increase the navigability of the National Waterways and the business development efforts to increase the freight traffic volumes, it said.
It was also informed that IWAI will take forward the discussion with the private sector and public sector companies who have expressed long term interest in utilising the National Waterways for freight movement.
The main challenges and issues faced by the potential shippers in utilising the inland waterways for freight movement were also discussed during the workshop.
India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks.
Of the total navigable length of 14,500 km, 5,200 km of the rivers and 4,000 km of canals can be used by mechanised craft.
However, approximately 90 per cent of freight in India currently moves via land transport (road, rail, pipelines). Share of waterways (coastal shipping and inland waterways) in India’s modal mix is lower as compared to countries like USA and China.