- Government plans to increase Inland Water Transport share to 5% by 2030.
- The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has recently released the blueprint to increase share of Inland transport through “ Maritime India Vision (MIV)-2030”.
- The vision comprises 150 initiatives across 10 themes, covering port infrastructure, logistics efficiency, technology, policy framework, shipbuilding, coastal shipping, inland waterways, cruise tourism, marine ecosystem, and maritime security.
- There is a need to push for IWT mode as these are cheaper operating costs, relatively lesser fuel consumption, less polluting mode of transportation and more environmentally friendly mode of transportation.
Maritime sector of India
- India has a significant maritime sector, with 12 major and 200+ non-major ports situated along its 7500 km long coastline and a vast network of navigable waterways.
- The country’s maritime sector plays a crucial role in its overall trade and growth, with 95% of the country’s trade volume and 65% of the trade value being undertaken through maritime transport.
- India has two ports, JNPT and Mundra, in the list of top 40 global container ports and globally the country ranks 2nd in ship recycling and 21st in shipbuilding.
- The country has increased the modal share of cargo from 0.5% to 2% and witnessed a 19% year-on-year growth in cargo volumes over the last 5 years.
- Inland Water Transport is the most economical mode of transportation, especially for bulk cargo like coal, iron ore, cement, food grains and fertilizer.
Initiatives for growth of traffic on National Waterways
- Fairway development works:
- Fairway development works to ensure Least Available Depth (LAD) of 3.0 meters in Haldia-Barh, 2.5 meters in Barh-Ghazipur, and 2.2 meters in Ghazipur-Varanasi stretches on NW-1.
- These are progressing under the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) which has been undertaken by IWAI with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.
- Development of New National Waterways:
- IWAI has identified 25 new NWs through techno-economic feasibility studies for undertaking technical interventions to make the waterways navigable for transportation purposes.
- Once ready, these new waterways will provide an alternate mode of transportation in respective geographies.
- Ro-Ro/Ro-Pax Service Commenced in Various National Waterways:
- The Operation of Ro-Ro / Ro-Pax vessels in Neamati and Kamalabari (Majuli), Guwahati and North Guwahati besides along Wellingdon Island and Bolghaty.
- Revision of Levy & Collection of Fees:
- The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has considered the waiver of waterway user charges initially for a period of three years.
- Digital Solutions for Ease-of-Doing Business:
- The CAR-D (Cargo Data) Portal is a web-based portal for collection & compilation, analysis and dissemination of all cargo and cruise movement data of National Waterways to the stakeholders.
Key challenges of maritime sector in India:
- Inadequate infrastructure: Despite having a significant coastline and a vast network of waterways, India’s maritime infrastructure, including ports and inland waterways, is inadequate and requires significant investment and development.
- Poor connectivity: The lack of connectivity between ports, as well as ports and hinterland, leads to inefficiencies and increased costs.
- Regulatory hurdles: The maritime sector in India is subject to complex and fragmented regulations, which can make it challenging for businesses to operate efficiently.
- Skill gaps: There is a shortage of skilled manpower in the maritime sector, including seafarers, engineers, and other professionals.
- Environmental concerns: The maritime sector can have a significant impact on the environment, and there are concerns around issues such as oil spills, pollution, and the impact of climate change.
- Security challenges: The maritime sector is also vulnerable to security threats such as piracy and terrorism.
- With the development work under Jal Marg Vikas Project-II (Arth Ganga) which is based on the principles of the sustainable development model to energize economic activities, maritime transportation will get a major push National Waterways No. 1(River Ganga).
- Government should also work to define initiatives, driving innovation, creating a time-bound action plan, benchmarking, addressing capability building and human resources, and exploring ideas to achieve “Waste to Wealth.”
- The proposed vision will go a long way in brownfield capacity augmentation, developing world-class Mega Ports, the development of a trans-shipment hub in Southern India, and infrastructure modernization besides addressing the marine ecosystem and maritime security.