[Answered] Discuss the potential of inland water transportation in India. How it can help in improving logistic sector?

Demand of the question
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Potential and benefits of Inland Water Transport.
Conclusion. Way forward.

In our civilisation, rivers have played a crucial role as a mode of transport in carrying people and goods. Even in the present era, many countries depend heavily on inland water transport. A sound and efficient transport infrastructure is the important to boost economic growth and to alleviate poverty by promoting sustainable development. Inland water transport provide access, mobility and connectivity and generate employment with lesser environmental footprint and cost.

Potential of inland Water Transport:

  1. India has 7500 km long coastline with approximately 14,500 kms of navigable waterways. This offers a huge potential for developing a cheaper and greener mode of transport.
  2. Only a small percentage of trade is currently carried out through inland waterways and coastlines. Inland water transport account for about 0.4% of trade and thus yet to be explored.
  3. It has been found that logistics costs in India account for about 18% of the country’s GDP, which is much higher than other countries. This makes Indian goods costlier and hence less competitive. Logistics costs in the country can be brought down considerably by transporting more and more goods by waterways.
  4. Inland waterways has the potential of emerging as the leading logistical artery for the entire India, which pass through India’s most densely populated areas and resource-rich regions, and generates an estimated 40 % of India’s traded goods. The network of a water-road-rail link will help the region’s industries and manufacturing units to have a seamless flow of goods to markets in India and abroad. Further, it will also give wider market access to the farmers of this agriculturally-rich Gangetic plain.

Benefits of inland waterways transport:

  1. Low cost: Inland waterways need less capital for development and less maintenance costs.
  2. Energy efficient: Inland water transport is considered to be the most cost-effective mode of transport from the point of view of fuel efficiency.
  3. Environment friendly: CO2 emissions from container vessels are much lesser than road transport vehicles.
  4. Capacity: It has an enormous capacity to carry bulk cargo, goods etc.
  5. Navigable: In India, around 14,500 km of river channels are navigable. But only 2000 km is used.
  6. Growth: The development of waterways will stimulate industrial growth and tourism. It will also promote export and import as it reduces logistics cost of moving cargo between ports and hinterland. Fewer accidents and less congestion compared to roads.
  7. Accessibility: It can provide access to remote areas. For instance, North-eastern states now receive coal, food grains through inland water transport.

Waking to the huge potential, the government aims to increase the inland waterway cargo movement. Once operational, the waterway will form a part of the larger multi-modal transport network being planned along the river.

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