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Parliament Clears National Waterways Bill, 2015
Mar 25, 2016

The Parliament has passed National Waterways Bill, 2015 to clear the way for the conversion of 106 rivers and creeks across India into transport waterways. It was first passed in Lok Sabha in December 2015 and later was passed by Rajya Sabha in March 2016.

The amendments in Bill are based on the recommendations of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of states.

Key Features

  • The changes effected in the original list of 101 waterways, which was introduced with the National Waterways Bill 2015, include omission of 10 waterways of Kerala, merger of 17 with the existing waterways and addition of 18.

  • In order to carry out these changes, an official amendment to the National Waterways Bill, 2015 was moved in the Lok Sabha.

  • The Bill provides for enacting a central legislation to declare 106 additional inland waterways as the national waterways.

  • After the inclusion of 106 additional inlands waterways to the existing five national waterways, the total number of national waterways goes up to 111.

  • Declaration of additional 106 waterways as national waterways will not have any immediate financial implications.

  • Financial approval of the competent authority for each waterway will, however, be taken based on the outcome of the techno-economic feasibility studies which are being undertaken by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

  • The expeditious declaration of national waterways and its subsequent development will spur industrial growth and tourism potential of the hinterland along the waterway.

  • This will also provide an additional, cheaper and environment friendly mode of transportation throughout the country.

  • One horse power can carry 4,000 kg load in water whereas it can carry 150 kg and 500 kg by road and rail, respectively. Further, in a study as highlighted by the World Bank, 1 litre of fuel can move 105 tonne-km by inland water transport whereas the same amount of fuel can move only 85 tonne-km by rail and 24 tonne-km by road.

  • Studies have shown that emission from container vessels ranges from 32-36 gm of CO2 per km while those of road transport vehicles (heavy duty vehicles) range from 51-91 gCO2 per km.

  • The Bill proposes conversion of 15 rivers in West Bengal, 14 each in Assam and Maharashtra, 11 in Karnataka, 12 in Uttar Pradesh, 9 in Tamil Nadu and 6 each in Bihar and Goa and 5 each in Gujarat, Meghalaya, Odisha and Telangana, among others.

  • The proposal also includes plan to convert the Yamuna in Delhi and Haryana into a waterway.

Existing Inland Waterways in India

India has a large network of water bodies in the form of rivers, Lakes, Canals and backwaters. These long waterways are provides a good mode of transport across the cities as well as towns, like backwaters of Kerala, Canals in Gujarat and few waterways in Goa, West Bengal and  Assam. Still these inland waterways are un-utilized in India as compare to other countries in the world, Inland Waterways Authority of India is working on new projects for waterways and better water transportation in India.

1. National Waterway 1 (NW 1) starts from Allahabad to Haldia with an distance of 1620 km. The NW 1 run through the Ganges, Bhagirathi and Hooghly river system with having fixed terminals at Haldia, Farrakka and Patna and floating terminals  at most of the riverside cities like Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Varanasi and Allahabad. It will be the longest National Waterway in India.

2. National Waterway 2 is a stretch on Brahmaputra river from Sadiya to Dhubri in Assam state. The NW 2 is one of the major freight transportation waterway of north east India and the third longest Waterway with a total length of 891 km.

3. National Waterway 3 or the West Coast Canal is located in Kerala state and run from Kollam to Kottapuram. The 205 km long West Coast Canal is India’s first waterway with all time navigation facility. The NW3 is consist of  West Coast Canal, Champakara Canal and Udyogmandal Canal and runs through Kottappuram,Cherthala, Thrikkunnapuzha Kollam and Alappuzha.

4. National Waterway 4 connects Kakinada to Pondicherry through Canals, Tank and River Godavari along with Krishna river. The NW 4 the second longest waterway of India with total lenght of 1095 km in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

5. National Waterway 5 connects Odisha to West Bengal using the stretch on Brahmani River, East Coast Canal, Matai river and Mahanadi River Delta. The 623 km long canal system will handle the traffic of cargo such as coal, fertilizer, cement and iron.

6. National Waterway 6 is the proposed waterway in Assam state and will connect Lakhimpur to Bhanga in river Barak. The 121 km long waterway will help in trading between town of Silchar to Mizoram State.


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