National Waterways in India


Ajit Kumar AJIT KUMARWISDOM IAS, New Delhi.

India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise of rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc. About 55 million tones of cargo is being moved annually by Inland Water Transport (IWT), a fuel - efficient and environment -friendly mode. Its operations are currently restricted to a few stretches in the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers , the Brahmaputra, the Barak river, the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari - Krishna rivers. Besides these organized operations by mechanized vessels, country boats of various capacities also operate in various rivers and canals. and substantial quantum of cargo and passengers are transported in this unorganized sector as well.
Inland Water Transport (IWT) is an economic, fuel-efficient and environment friendly mode of transport. India has an extensive network of rivers, lakes and canals which, if developed for shipping and navigation, can provide an efficient network of inland transportation. An optimal mix of road, rail and inland water transport will provide an efficient transport infrastructure with mobility, flexibility and cost effectiveness. While the thrust so far has been in developing road and rail sectors, Government recognizes the need to actively promote the IWT sector for it to take a reasonable share in the inter-modal mix of inland transport.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985 empowers the Government to declare waterways with potential for development of shipping and navigation as National Waterways and develop such waterways for efficient shipping and navigation. So far, waterways namely, the Ganga, the Brahmaputra and the West Coast Canal have been declared as National Waterways and are being developed for shipping and navigation by the Central Government.
The revival plan of Inland Water Transport would include increasing the coverage of National Waterways and provision of necessary infrastructure for shipping and navigation and in augmenting the IWT fleet. While there would be a need for budgetary support for the development of the IWT sector, equally important would be a large-scale private sector participation both for creation of infrastructure and for fleet operations.
The IWT strategy aims at generating a more pro-active role by various agencies for the development of this sector. It has now been decided to enlarge the scope of the role of the Government as a provider, facilitator and regulator and, at the same time, offer various concessions to the private sector for their effective participation by way of investment for creation of enhanced IWT infrastructure and fleet operations.
The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) came into existence on 27th October 1986 for development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of IWT infrastructure on national waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping. The head office of the Authority is at Noida. The Authority also has its regional offices at Patna, Kolkata, Guwahati and Kochi and sub-offices at Allahabad, Varanasi, Bhaglapur, Farakka and Kollam.
National Waterway -1
The Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system between Haldia (Sagar) & Allahabad (1620 kms) was declared as National Waterway No.  1(NW-1) during October 1986. IWAI is carrying out various developmental works on the waterway for improvement of its navigability as laid down in the IWAI Act, 1985 (82 of 1985). As per IWAI, Act 1985, IWAI is responsible to develop the waterway for navigation. Till 2010 IWAI had been maintaining a navigable depth of 2.5 meters between Haldia(Sagar) & Farakka (560 km), 2.0 meters in Farakka  Patna (460 Km) and 1.5 meters in Patna  Allahabad sector (600Km). At present the waterway is being used by tourism vessels, ODC Carriers, IWAI vessels etc. At present several power companies have initiated action for setting up Thermal Power projects and extensive movement of over dimensional cargo (ODC), imported coal for NTPC projects is planned to operate during the next 5-6 years, while a number of ODC consignments and tourist vessels (Pandaw cruise from Kolkata to Varanasi and VIVADA cruise vessel from Kolkata to Murshidabad) were recorded to have moved through the waterway during 2009-10. The Authority is acquiring the additional dredging fleet during 2010. After deployment of the additional dredgers along with Bandalling it is planned to provide an enhanced minimum depth of 3.0 meters in Haldia(Sagar)  Farakka, 2.50 meters in Farakka  Patna, 2.0 meters in Patna  Varanasi and 1.5 meters in Patna  Allahabad sector during 2010-11.
National Waterway -2
The river Brahmaputra having a length of 891 Km between Bangladesh Border to Sadiya was declared as National Waterway no. 2 (NW-2) on 1st September, 1988. IWAI is carrying out various developmental works on the waterway for improving its navigability as laid down in the IWAI act, 1985 (82 of 1985).
As per IWAI, Act 1985, IWAI is responsible to develop the waterway for navigation. Till 2012 IWAI had been maintaining a navigable depth of 2.5m in B’Border- Neamati (629 Km), 2.0 m in Neamati – Dibrugarh (139 Km) and 1.5m in Dibrugarh – Sadiya (Oriumghat) stretch. At present the waterway is being used by vessels of Govt. of Assam, CIWTC, Border Security Forces, Tourism vessel, other private operators. Long cruise tourist vessels are making voyages between Sivsagar near Dibrugarh and Mans wild life sanctuary near jogighopa regularly. POL.(petroleum, oil and lubricants) was transported through IWT from Silghat to Budg-Budg (West Bengal) and Baghmari(Bangladesh)
The shoals (shallow areas) are being attended by bandalling (a conventional method of erecting bamboos and bamboo mats) to divert the flow to the main channel. Two dredgers (one Cutter suction dredger in B’Border-Pandu stretch and one Hydraulic surface dredger earmarked for specific purposes like rescue operation have also been placed in NW-2. Two more Cutter Suction dredgers are under construction which will be deployed in the remaining  stretches i.e. Pandu, Neamati and Neamati – Dibrugarh / Oriumghat .
National Waterway -3
The West Coast Canal from Kottapuram to Kollam was declared as National Waterway No.3 vide National Waterway (Kollam-Kottapuram stretch of West Coast Canal and Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals) Act 1992 ( 33-F of 1992 ) and notified on 1st Feb. 1993. From Kottapuram to Kollam including Champakara and Udyogmandal canals has a navigable length of 205 kms.
This waterway comprises of natural lakes, back-waters, river sections and man-made canal sections. The Champakara and Udyogmandal canals link industrial centers of Ambalamugal and Udyogmandal with the Kochi port. On the main West Coast Canal between Kollam and Kottapuram, the Kochi Edapallikota (120 kms) stretch was opened for cargo movement during November 1994 consequent to improvement works carried out by IWAI.
Project for providing and maintaining 24 hrs navigational aids by way of buoys and lights had been completed during 2007-08 and now the entire waterway has the facility for 24 hrs navigation which was maintained during 2008-09.3.64 In view of the development of International Container Transshipment Terminal at Vallarpadam in Cochin Port area, there is a tremendous potential for transport of containers through NW-3. Keeping this in view, IWAI in collaboration with Cochin Port Trust initiated the process of construction of Roll on-Roll off cum Lift on –Lift off IWT terminals at Willingdon and Bolgatty islands on NW-3 in Cochin port area.Cochin Port Trust (CPT) is presently handling 3 lakh TEU containers per annum through its existing facilities at Willingdon Island. On commissioning of Vallarpadam ICTT, the quantum of containerized cargo would substantially increase. The traffic will reach at Willingdon Island and move to ICTT by barge/ RO RO service by making use of IWT. Dedicated IWT terminals on NW-3 will provide the requisite infrastructure and landing facilities for containers in transit through NW-3 from IWAI’s existing terminals to ICTT, besides providing facility for transporting containers to Vallarpadam ICTT through RO-RO barges from Cochin Port.
National Waterway -4
Kakinada-Puducherry canal stretch (767km) along with Godavari River stretch (171km) between (Bhadrachalam and Rajhamundry) and Krishna River stretch(157km) between (Wazirabad and Vijaywada) is termed as NW-4.Total length of NW-4 is 1095 km. A network of irrigation cum navigation canal linking Chennai and Ennore Ports in Tamil Nadu with the Kakinada Port,and Ma­chlipatnam Ports in Andhra Pradesh runs through a distance of 618 kms. The Kakinad canal and Eluru canal and Commamur canal which are irrigation cum navigation canal also interlink the two major river systems of Godavari and Krishna. The Buckingham canal which interlinks the Commamur canal with Chennai port runs through a distance of 315 Km is tidal.
In view of the port hinterland connection, interstate and inter city traffic potential and the historic data on IWT move­ment, development of this waterway into an efficient IWT system is envisaged during the 9th Five Year Plan. Further integrated canal also connect the Chennai city with the Mercunam through the south Buckingham canal and Cooum river runs through a distance of 103 kms.
Features-
(i) Date of declaration- Declared on 25th Nov. 2008
(ii) Total length - 1095 km
(iii) Stretch Details – (i)Kakinada-Puducherry Canal-767 Km; (ii) Godavari River( Bhadrachalam – Rajmundry)171 Km ; (iii) Krishna River(Wazirabad- Vijayawada)-157 Km
National Waterways-5
National Waterway-5: Talcher-Dhamra stretch of Brahmani-Kharsua-Dhamra rivers, Geonkhali-Charbatia stretch of East Coast Canal, Charbatia-Dhamra stretch of Matai river and Mahanadi delta rivers between Mangalgadi and Paradip (Total length- 588 km) in the States of West Bengal and Orissa.
Out of above mentioned five National Waterways, developmental works are being carried out by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on NW-1, 2 and 3 only. In NW-1 & 2, IWAI undertakes river conservancy works to provide navigational channel of 3 meter/2.0 meter/1.5 meter depth in different stretches during the low water period. In NW–3, which is a tidal canal, Inland Waterways Authority of India is carrying out capital dredging to provide a navigational channel with 2 meter depth and 32 meter width. Navigation by cargo and other inland vessels take place in these three National Waterways all around the year. For National Waterways-4 and 5, declared as National Waterways in November, 2008 proposals for development of these waterways have been initiated.
National Waterways-6
The National Waterway (Lakhipur-Bhanga Stretch of the Barak River) Bill, 2013 was introduced in the Rajya Sabha on March 22, 2013 . The Bill proposes to declare and develop the 121km long Lakhipur-Bhanga stretch of the Barak river in Assam as National Waterway 6 (NW-6).
The Bill was referred to the Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture on the same day.  The Committee submitted its report on June 26, 2013.  The Bill was passed by the Rajya Sabha on August 14, 2013.The bill is still to be passed by the Lok Sabha.
 

Wednesday, 26th Mar 2014, 07:49:05 AM

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