Model Question and Answers for APSC | Enumerate the problems and prospects of inland water transport in India.

Enumerate the problems and prospects of inland water transport in India.

Model Question and Answers for APSC | Enumerate the problems and prospects of inland water transport in India.

Ans: India has about 14,500 km of navigable waterways which comprise rivers, canals, backwaters, creeks, etc. About 55 million tons of cargo are already being moved annually by Inland Water Transport (IWT), a fuel-efficient and environmentally -friendly mode. The Government is actively working to develop inland waterways as an alternative mode of transport in the country, for which they have designated 111 National Waterways in the country. These waterways are being developed to make them operational/ navigable and usable for transportation.

Geographic problems:

  • Reduced flow due to diversion of water for irrigation, for example, in the Ganga, making even steamers difficult to operate.
  • There are difficulties in smooth navigation due to waterfalls and cataracts such as those found in the Narmada and Tapti rivers.
  • Reduced navigability as a result of siltation, as seen in the Bhagirathi- Hooghly and the Buckingham Canal.

Technical problems:

  • A major concern is the lack of adequate depth of waterways for commercial cargo movement.
  • In addition, the quality of the water flow is deteriorating over time. Multiple bridges with low vertical clearance obstruct the passage of larger For example, it is located in NW3.
  • India lacks vessel construction due to its lack of capital incentives.
  • It prevents door-to-door connectivity to end users due to a lack of terminals.
  • Poor infrastructure, combined with year-round water scarcity, is a barrier to waterway operation.
  • There is a severe shortage of MRO facilities for inland water transport vessels.

Regulatory problems:

  • A lack of modal integration and detailed mapping of waterways and industrial clusters, as well as a lack of integration of hinterland coastal shipping with international maritime traffic, exists.
  • Lack of a level playing field policy (waterways were not on the national horizon for planning and connectivity for a long time).
  • As inland waterways pass through multiple states, there is a lack of consistency in legal and administrative issues.

Political problems:

  • River interconnection is a major issue that has yet to be addressed.

Financial problems:

  • The government has made an investment.
  • The private sector's involvement in MRO is paltry.
  • The economic viability of dam/barrage construction to increase navigation depth is a concern.

Prospects of inland water transport in India:

  • Employment potential: According to the National Transport Development Policy Committee, every Rs 1 lac investment would result in 6 person-years of employment.
  • Environmentally friendly: When compared to other modes, IWT consumes the least amount of energy.
  • Reduced freight costs: Because it is the cheapest mode of cargo Recently, the government has been experimenting with innovations that would allow these barges to be powered by LNG, lowering freight costs while also using cleaner fuel.
  • Tourism: IWT has the potential to be a significant revenue generator for its promising tourism potential.
  • Linkage to NE: International protocols allow for a direct link between the ports of Haldia and Kolkota and the land locked NE.


National waterways are a cost-effective, logistically efficient, and environmentally friendly mode of transportation, and their development as a supplementary mode would allow traffic to be diverted away from congested roads and railways. As a result, the waterways project merits better regulation and development throughout the country.