The Union Cabinet has given its approval for allocating 2.5% of the Central Road Fund (CRF) for the development of the National Waterways.
Central Road Fund is a duty on excise and customs levied on petrol and high-speed diesel.
The allocation will provide around Rs 2000 crore annually for the development and maintenance of the National Waterways which in turn will boost inland water transport. According to the Inland Waterways Authority of India, the development of National Waterways would require Rs 25,000 crore till 2022-2023. The move is also expected to provide employment opportunities to 1.8 lakh persons in the next 5 years
A number of facilities like navigation aids, night navigation facility, facilities for embarking and disembarking at designated locations, facilities for expeditious crossing of the Farakka Navigation Lock, pilotage and assistance in distress will be provided by the IWAI.
The National Waterways Act, 2016 was passed in 2016 for the development and maintenance of National Waterways. The act which came into force in 12 April, 2016 has declared 111 inland waterways across 24 states as national waterways. At present five National Waterways are operational.
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 required infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration and regulation.