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  • Enactment of a Central legislation for declaring identified inland waterways as National Waterways (25-March 2015)
  • Formation of a Special Purpose Vehicle to provide efficient rail evacuation systems to Major Ports and thereby enhance their handling capacity and efficiency (25-March 2015)
  • Sagarmala: Concept and implementation towards Blue Revolution (25-March 2015)
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Enactment of a Central legislation for declaring identified inland waterways as National Waterways

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, today gave its approval for enactment of Central legislation for declaring 101 additional Inland Waterways as National Waterways (NW)  for navigation.


This will create a logistic supply chain with intermodal (Rail, Road and Waterways) connectivity. It would positively contribute to the GDP by opening up business opportunities in the area of dredging, barge construction, barge operation, barge repair facilities, terminal construction, terminal operation, storage facilities, providing modern aids to day and night navigation, tourist cruise, consultancy, training of manpower for manning barges, hydrographic survey, etc.  Investment in all these business areas will create numerous opportunities for employment and economic development and reduce pressure from the already over-loaded, congested and costlier other surface modes of transport.


Detailed business development studies are being carried out under the Jal Marg Vikas Project for identifying all business opportunities and quantifying anticipated investments and employment opportunities.


Inland Water Transport (IWT) is world over recognised as a fuel efficient, cost effective and an environment friendly mode of transport, especially for bulk goods, hazardous goods and over dimensional cargo. The enormous socio-economic and environmental advantages of IWT mode of transportation over other modes such as rail and road can be seen from the following:-

(i)         Cost savings :

·         1 HP moves 150 kg on road, 500 kg on rail and 4000 kg on water.

·         1 litre of fuel moves 24 t-km on road, 85 on rail and 105 on IWT.

·         Cost of developing waterways is much lower than rail & road.

·         Reduces transportation and transition losses.


Inter Modal Comparative Operating Costs Rs/TKM




















Source : Railways – Ministry of Railways, Road – TTSS, IWT – IWAI

(ii)        Environment friendly:

·         Least fuel consumption per tonne – km.

·         CO2 emission is 50 percent that of trucks.

·         Negligible land requirement.

·         Safe mode for hazardous and over dimensional cargo.


(iii)       Supplementary mode:

·         Reduces pressure on road and rail.

·         Reduces congestion and accidents on road.


In view of the large network of inland waterways in India, there is vast potential in IWT to act as an alternate and supplementary mode of transportation. However, so far, in the last 30 years, only the following five waterways have been declared as National Waterways :-


(i)           Allahabad-Haldia stretch of Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (1620 km);

(ii)     Dhubri-Sadiya stretch of River Brahmaputra (891 km);

(iii)    Kottapuram-Kollam stretch of West Coast Canal along with Udyogmandal and Champakara Canals (205 km);

(iv)    Kakinada-Puducherry stretch of canals along with designated stretches of Godavari and Krishna rivers (1078 km); and

(v)     Designated stretches of East Coast Canal, Brahmani river and Mahanadi delta (588 km).


Due to very little investment made so far on development of this mode compared globally and to the road and rail modes in the country, IWT mode remains under-developed and its share in overall internal cargo transport remains abysmally low. IWT sector presently has a meagre modal share of 0.4 percent in India compared to 42 percent in Netherlands, 8.7 percent in China and over 8 percent in USA. This is a great economic opportunity loss to the country.


On declaration of a waterway as a NW, development and regulation for shipping and navigation by mechanically propelled vessels come under the jurisdiction of Central Government.  However, rights over the usage of water, ownership of appurtenant land, minerals, metals, sand etc. continue to be with the State Government.


Inland Waterways transport has immense potential for passenger as well as domestic cargo transportation.  The Central Government can undertake development of an Inland waterway for navigation, only when it is declared as National Waterways by an Act of Parliament.  Therefore, for the development of additional 101 identified waterways for the purpose of navigation, it become necessary that these inland waterways are declared as NW by an Act of Parliament.




Government has undertaken a policy for integrated development of inland waterways for navigation purposes.  According to the existing provisions, the Central Government can undertake development of an inland waterway for navigation only when it is declared as a National Waterway by an Act of Parliament inline with Entry No. 24 in List I of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution. 


Keeping in view the urgent need for a supplementary/alternate mode of transport on waterways, such a long waiting period needs to be curtailed.  One way of reducing this time period is to declare all the identified waterways as national waterways through a single legislation and enable the Government to undertake development as and when the need arises and preparatory work and funding tie up is complete. 






Release ID :117695
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