Inland Waterways Current Affairs

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World Bank approves $375 million loan for National Waterway-1

The World Bank has approved a loan of $375 million (around Rs 2,421 crore) for capacity augmentation of National Waterway-1 (NW-1) between Haldia in West Bengal and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh on the river Ganga under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP). The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels of 1,500-2,000 deadweight tonnes capacity along a 1,390-km stretch.

Jal Marg Vikas Project is a project on the river Ganga that envisages the development of waterway between Allahabad and Haldia that will cover a distance of 1620 km. It aims to develop a fairway with three metres depth to enable commercial navigation of at least 1500 tonne vessels on the river.  The project includes the development of fairway, multi-modal terminals, strengthening of open river navigation technique, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS) etc.

As a part of the project, Inland Waterways Authority of India will set up a River Information Service System on NW-1, the first of its kind in India. Besides, three multi-modal terminals, one each at Varanasi, Sahibganj (Jharkhand), Haldia; and inter-modal terminals at Kalughat and Ghazipur; a navigation lock at Farakka; and five Roll on-Roll off (Ro-Ro) terminals would be constructed.

Need

The rail and road corridors of this region have been crippled with heavy traffic and have become saturated. Hence, the development of NW-1 would pave way for an alternative, viable, economical, efficient and eco-friendly mode of transport.

NW-1

National Waterway-1 (NW-1) is a waterway passing through Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal, potentially serving the major cities of Haldia, Howrah, Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Patna, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Allahabad and their industrial hinterlands including several industries located along the Ganga basin.

Inland Waterways Authority of India

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory body in charge of the waterways in India. Its headquarters is located in Noida, UP. Its main function is to build the necessary infrastructure in the inland waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also carrying out administration and regulation.

River Information system (RIS)

RIS is a combination of modern tracking equipment comprising of hardware and software designed to optimise transport and traffic processes in inland water navigation. The system has the capability to enhance swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and Base stations through advance and real-time exchange of information. It enables safe and efficient inland water transport by avoiding risks such as (i) Ship-to-Ship collisions. (ii) Ship-Bridge collisions. (iii) Groundings.

Inland Waterway Authority of India (IWAI) is implementing the RIS in India.

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Government funds Ro Pax Ferry Service in Gulf of Cambay under Sagarmala Programme

The Union Ministry of Shipping has sanctioned the Capital Dredging Project of Ro Pax Ferry Services between Gogha & Dahej, in Gulf of Cambay in Gujarat under Sagarmala programme.

The total project cost is estimated to be Rs 234 Crore of which 50% will be funded by the Union Government under the Sagarmala programme.

Significance of Project

  • This is first of its kind project in India as it will be executed in the area of world’s 2nd highest tidal range.
  • This project on completion will result in reduction in motorable distance of 231 kms between Gogha and Dahej in Gujarat to mere 31 kms.
  • It will pave way for launching India’s first roll on-roll off (Ro-Ro) vessel passenger ferry services on this route by April 2017.
  • Besides, it will reduce the travel time to 1 hour from 7 hours. It will also result in savings in fuel, reduction in CO2 emission and reduction in road congestion.
  • The project will open up new avenues in coastal shipping & tourism and help in socio-economic development of proximate areas.
  • It will also help in utilisation of inland waterways through River Narmada for shipping goods from industries located upstream.

What is Sagarmala Programme?

  • The Sagarmala Programme is Union Government’s flagship strategic, customer-oriented initiative to achieve the broad objective of promoting port-led economic development in India.
  • The ambitious programme seeks to harness vast potential of India’s 7,500 km long coastline, 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways and strategic location on key international maritime trade routes.
  • It envisages the growth of coastal and inland shipping as a major mode of transport for carriage of goods and people along the coastal and riverine economic centres.
  • Sagarmala when integrated with the development of inland waterways will help to reduce cost and time for transporting goods, benefiting industries and export/import trade.

Gulf of Cambay

The Gulf of Cambay (also known as Gulf of Khambhat) is an inlet of the Arabian Sea in the state of Gujarat along the west coast of India. It divides the Kathiawar peninsula to the west from the eastern part of Gujarat state. Narmada, Tapti, Mahi and Sabarmati rivers drain into it.

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Union Government to invite bids soon for 36 inland waterways

The Union Government is going to soon float tenders to invite bids for the development for 36 inland waterways projects in the first phase.

This move will help to tap the huge potential in the so-far-untapped inland waterways transport segment despite India being endowed with natural rivers suitable for it.

Background

  • Earlier, Parliament had enacted a legislation allowing 106 rivers across the country to be converted into National Waterways (NWs) in addition to the existing 5 such NWs.
  • The law was enacted in a bid to boost movement of goods and passengers via rivers and reduce transportation costs substantially.

Advantages of Inland water transport

  • It is environment-friendly and cost-effective mode of transportation.
  • It will reduce the logistics costs significantly which are currently as high as 18% in India.
  • India has huge natural geographical potential for inland waterways as 14,500 km of river channels are navigable.
  • Development inland waterways can spur industrial growth and tourism potential along the waterway especially in plain areas of North India.
  • The statutory status to the inland waterways would pave for investments in inland waterways transportation sector which has been neglected in the past.
  • It would provide a cheaper mode of transport and reducing traffic burden and congestion on roads and railways.

Problems

  • Seasonal variations in water level especially in the rain-fed rivers of the peninsula may cause hindrance to inland waterway projects.
  • Diversion of river water for irrigation, industrial and domestic purpose may affect the viability of these projects.
  • Inland waterways may cause serious environmental threat to Gangetic river dolphins, national Aquatic animal of India.

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