India’s inland waterways mark 16% traffic surge in FY23; ₹6,600 crore allocated for infra development

India’s inland waterways have seen an at least 16 per cent Y-o-Y increase in traffic during FY23 to 126.15 million tonnes (mt), as against 108.79 mt in FY22. Last fiscal year, some five-odd waterways were made operational across three states, including Assam, Odisha and Kerala.

These five waterways were NW-14 and NW-23 in Odisha across rivers Baitarini and BudhaBalagna; NW-8 and NW-9 in Kerala that include stretches covering Alappuzha – Kottayam Athirampuzha Canal and the Alappuzha – Changanassery Canal; and, the NW-31 in Assam along Dhansiri river. They also saw a cumulative cargo movement of 0.09 mt.

The Ministry has also sanctioned over ₹6,600 crore for infra development across the national waterways, including development of five new ones.

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The highest traffic movements last fiscal was reported along the Shastri River – Jaigad Creek stretch of NW 91, followed by the Amba River stretch across NW 10, both of which are located in Maharashtra, as per a written response by the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbanada Sonowal, in the Parliament.

Around 33.87 mt of cargo movement took place in FY23 along NW-91, up 52 per cent YoY, while along the Amba River, a .6 mt of cargo movement took place in FY23, up 42 per cent YoY.

India currently has 111 National Waterways (NW), including five existing ones and 106 newly declared ones spread across 24 states.

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“Feasibility studies of new National Waterways have been completed, and subsequent Detailed Project Reports (DPRs) also completed on selected National Waterways on the basis of (these) feasibility studies. Action plan has been formulated for development of 26 most viable NWs based upon the outcome of study reports,” Sonowal said in a written response to the Parliament.

Investments in Inland Waterways

According to him, around Rs. 6639.27 crore has been allocated for capacity augmentation of existing and new waterways development and jetties to improve the navigation facilities.

Around Rs 5362.27 crore has been allocated under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP I & II) along the Varanasi-Haldia stretch (1390 km) of NW-1 (Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system) covering four states, namely, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal. The projects were sanctioned on 03.01.2018.

A comprehensive development plan for NW-2, along the Brahmaputra river in Assam, at an estimated cost of ₹474 crore; another ₹388 crore (₹208 crore and ₹180 crore) has been allocated for the development of ship repair facility and an alternative road at Pandu Port also in Assam.

Another Rs 148 crore has been allocated for the comprehensive development of NW-16 (along the river Barak), especially for the Indian portion of the India–Bangladesh route that passes through Assam, Sonowal said.

Another tranche of ₹267 core has also been allocated under Phase – I of the development of 16 existing National Waterways, including four new ones (namely NW – 3, 4, 5 and 13) across states of Kerala, Andhra, Odisha, Goa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra & Assam.

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