How waterways can help improve competitiveness

News: Despite being cost-effective and environment-friendly, domestic waterways play a limited role in hinterland connectivity.

About inland waterways in India

India has an extensive network of inland waterways, but they are highly underutilized for freight transport.

The development of inland waterways has been effective in increasing the movement of cargo by about 13% in 2020-21, compared to 2019-20.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) says 25 of the 111 National Waterways (NWs) are fit for cargo and passenger traffic. Out of these 25, developmental activities are underway for 13.

Must read: Inland Waterways in India- Issues and Challenges
What are the benefits of Inland waterways?
Inland waterways
Source: Livemint

According to Rail India Technical and Economic Service, an arm of the Indian Railways, inland water transport is significantly cost-efficient compared to rail and road transport, 2. Help in de-congestion of overcrowded rail and road networks,

Inland waterways and regional trade

-the addition of seven new ports of call on each side of India and Bangladesh will increase the accessibility of inland water transport modes for trade,

-Inland waterway mode has been agreed for inclusion in the trade treaty between India and Nepal.

-Stone exporters from Bhutan have identified inland waterways as an alternative mode of transportation. The IWAI supervised and executed the first such movement in July 2019.

Read more: Connecting India by inland waterways
Help the economy

India’s logistics cost as a share of gross domestic product (GDP) is estimated to be at around 14%, and the Centre’s aims to bring it down below 10%.

Inland waterways will help to lower transportation costs and time. This will have a spillover effect on manufacturing and export competitiveness, as the price of most items also depends on transportation costs.

How’s India developing inland waterways?

1. Introduced various schemes, programs and Bills such as Jal Marg Vikas Project, Interlinking of Rivers Programme, Sagarmala Project, Inland Vessels Bill, etc. 2. Ministry of ports, shipping, and waterways last year waived user charges for a period of three years, 3. The government came up with digital solutions such as a portal giving information on cargo and cruise movement and a portal for river navigation and infrastructure information

Read more: Indian Vessels Bill, 2021

Source: This post is based on the article “How waterways can help improve competitiveness” published in Live Mint on 10th December 2021.

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