Inland waterways have significant potential to contribute in Indian economy. Analyse how Inland Water Transport (IWT) benefit the clogged transportation in particular and Indian economy in general in light of recently passed National Waterways Bill 2015?
Hint/Model Answer: -
India has a potential of 14500 Km of navigable waterways which comprising of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc, however, so far only around 4000 Km has been developed for commercial transportation. Countries like China, Korea have more than 40 per cent of their traffic over inland waterways; this number is only 3.5 per cent in India thus to increase the utilization of the potential of Indian inland waterways and reduce the traffic congestion on Indian roads and railways, the National Waterways Bill 2015 was passed.
Potential benefits of Inland waterways:
Inland waterways are far more fuel efficient and cost effective mode of transportation than either road or rail, considering that just a single mid-sized barge has the dry-cargo capacity equivalent to 50 trucks or over 10 railcars. As a consequence, transportation of cargo over inland waterways offers the advantage of both lowering carbon dioxide emissions and curbing the rate of road accidents.
The Bill identifies additional 101 waterways as national waterways in addition to the existing five national and a few other smaller water corridors. The Schedule of the Bill also specifies the extent of development to be undertaken on each waterway.
Water highways are cheaper than road and rail to develop and maintain. The cargo conveyance cost, too, is lower because of minimal energy requirements.
Integrating multiple sectors to waterways development – such as roads, rail, tourism, coal, power, manufacturing (ship building), etc will generate huge employment and industrial activity.
Development of inland waterways will promote tourism like cruise tourism and Ensure seamless connectivity across hinterlands thus balance regional development.
However, to be operational year-round and able to carry heavy loads, India’s water channels will need to have adequate width, depth and air clearance. Therefore, require regular and extensive dredging and desilting. Moreover, water highways will require more river ports with their support infrastructure - road and rail connections, warehouses and other services. Heavy investment will be needed also to procure equipment, including dredgers, shipping vessels and barges of different sizes. This requires funds and FDI in this sector to develop. Government need to evolve policy inter model transport integration and for better implementation of the NWA, 2015 to take full advantage India’s inland waterway potential.