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Union Minister Sonowal reviews IWAI projects, unveils 5-year action plan for developing national waterways

25 Jun 2024

New Delhi [India], June 25 (ANI): Union Minister of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, visited the Noida Head Office of the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) on Tuesday. During his visit, Sonowal was briefed about the status of the 111 National Waterways in the country and how inland waterways are emerging as a sustainable mode of transportation to complement roadways and railways.

During the interaction at IWAI, the minister unveiled a five-year action plan for developing new national waterways, emphasising river cruises through targeted campaigns and events to boost tourism. Collaboration with Northeastern Region (NER) states was highlighted, with a robust mechanism in place to ensure effective CSS project implementation.

As per the Ports, Shipping and Waterways Ministry, while interacting with senior officials of IWAI, the minister emphasised the need to develop national waterways across the country and to significantly increase passenger and freight movement on waterways.

Sonowal praised the efforts made to promote river cruise tourism in the country and recent initiatives such as the introduction of hybrid electric catamaran vessels and the country's first hydrogen vessel.

Additionally, the minister reviewed the progress of the World Bank-funded Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) on the National Waterway (NW) 1 - River Ganga.

The Authority is enhancing waterways infrastructure by constructing multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Sahibganj, and Haldia, and an inter-modal terminal at Kalughat to facilitate freight movement and improve connectivity. IWAI is also installing community jetties to benefit communities residing along the banks of River Ganga.

"MoPSW is committed to developing a robust inland water transport system. By enhancing India's national waterways, MoPSW and IWAI together aim to boost economic growth and ensure efficient, sustainable transportation options for the nation, in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi's vision of a 'New India' with world-class infrastructure," Sonowal said.

Addressing human resource issues, the minister discussed overcoming challenges in the Indo-Bangladesh Protocol (IBP) route and proposed innovative solutions for expediting Inland Water Transport (IWT) work in Goa, Maharashtra, and Gujarat, leveraging technology and inter-state cooperation to enhance national infrastructure.

Sonowal also assessed the interventions being made by the Authority to promote IWT activities in the North Eastern Region, especially National Waterways 2, 16 and 31 i.e., the Brahmaputra, Barak and Dhansiri rivers in Assam. Initiatives to improve regional connectivity with neighbouring countries like Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal and Myanmar were also evaluated.

New technological advancements by IWAI made to improve navigation were also showcased to the Union Minister. This included initiatives like PANI (Portal for Assets and Navigational Information), RIS (River Information System), CAR-D for the collection, compilation, analyses and dissemination of cargo and cruise movement data, as well as future projects like the Central Database and National River Traffic and Navigation System, among others.

As a symbol of growth and prosperity, Sonowal also planted a sapling on the premises of IWAI.

Notably, the cargo movement on national waterways has increased to over 133 million tonnes, recording a CAGR growth of 22.1 per cent for ten years from FY 2014 to FY 2024. IWAI aims to increase the modal share of freight movement through IWT from 2 per cent to 5 per cent and traffic volume to more than 200 MMT in line with the Maritime India Vision 2030 and more than 500 MMT by 2047 as per the Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047.

The two vision documents formulated by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways aim to promote inland water transport in a big way, ensuring a sustainable complimentary mode of transportation in the country.

To enable inland waterways as conduits of economic growth and commerce in the country, an investment of Rs 45,000 crore for development of river cruise tourism in the country has been planned. Of this ambitious sum, an estimated Rs 35,000 crore has been earmarked for cruise vessels and another Rs 10,000 crore for the development of cruise terminal infrastructure at the end of Amrit Kaal, i.e. by 2047.

To amp up inland waterways for cargo trade, an investment of Rs 15,200 crore has arrived at the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) held in Mumbai in October, 2023. This is likely to register a growth rate of more than 400 per cent, increasing the volume upto 500 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) by 2047. With the Harit Nauka Guidelines, the MoPSW has put forth a strong commitment towards furthering passenger transport through waterways in an environment-friendly and sustainable manner by promoting the adoption of low-emission fuel (CNG/LNG/electric/hydrogen/methanol) as propulsion fuel for inland vessel operations (Green Vessels). (ANI)

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