Cargo movement through National Waterways (NWs) and coastal waterways having linkage with NWs have registered a growth of more than 2.76 times during the past five years, said Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sabananda Sonowal here on Tuesday.
“The efforts made by the Government to promote the Inland Water Transport (IWT) have resulted in an increase in the transportation of goods through Inland Water Transport (IWT) and coastal waterways,” the Minister said while replying to a question in the Rajya Sabha.
While the growth rate of IWT on National Waterways from 2009-10 to 2013-14 was at 1.5%, the growth rate increases to 13.5% in 2020-21 annually.
The cost of water transport in India is roughly Rs 0.5 paise per kilometer as compared to Rs 1 by railways and Rs 1.5 per kilometer by road. As a result it has attracted the attention of the government to develop water highways within the country to bring down the cost of transport. Yet the total cargo moved by inland waterways was just 0.1 % of the total inland traffic in India compared to 21 % in the USA.
According to a rough estimate, India has a navigable length of 14,500 kilometers and moves about 44 million tonnes of cargo annually through these waterways using mechanized vessels and country boats in an organized manner in the waterways of Goa, West Bengal, Assam, and Kerala.
The main inland waterways consist of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak river, the river of Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai, and the deltaic region of the Godavari-Krishna rivers, said a senior officer of the Ministry.