The Ministry of Shipping recently waived Waterways Usage Charges (WUC) for three years.
The WUC have been waived off to achieve the target of GoI to make inland waterways as a supplementary, cheaper, and eco-friendly mode of transport. The Inland Waterways Authority of India operating under Ministry of Shipping has levied WUC for plying cargo vessels on the national waterways. The IWAI is the statutory authority that monitors and maintains waterways in India.
The Water Usage Charges were so far a big hindrance for traffic movement.
The waiving is expected to increase inland waterway traffic movement to 110 million metric tonnes by 2022-23. It was 72 million metric tonnes in 2019-20. The reduced charges of water transport will attract more industries to use national waterways for their logistical needs. Also, it will reduce burden on other transport system in the country.
There are 14,500 km of navigable waterways in India. This includes canals, rivers, backwaters and creeks. The National Waterways Act, 2016 pronounced 111 rivers, creeks, river stretches and estuaries in the country as National Waterways.
Despite all these measures, Inland Water Transport in India is miniscule as compared to other countries. It is just 0.5% in India. On the other hand, it is 8.3% in US, 8.7% in China, 7% iin Europe and 42% in Netherlands.