Cabinet approves amendments in "The National Waterways Bill, 2015

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The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi has given its approval to carry out official amendments in "The National Waterways Bill, 2015".

The amendments are based on the recommendations of the Department related Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport, Tourism and Culture and comments of State Governments.

Objective of the amendment It 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 upto 111.

Amendments made in the National Waterways Bill, 2015 :-

10 waterways of Kerala have been omitted, 17 waterways have been merged with the existing waterways and 18 waterways (5 Karnataka, 5 Meghalaya, 3 Maharashtra, 3 Kerala, 1 each from Tamilnadu and Rajasthan) have been added, thus, making a total of 106 waterways that have been finalized for declaration as new National Waterways in addition to the 5 existing waterways.

The declaration of these National Waterways would enable IWAI to develop the feasible stretches for Shipping and Navigation. The right over the use of water, river bed and the appurtenant land will remain with the State Government.

Significance of  additional inland waterways :-

The expeditious declaration of National Waterways and its subsequent development will enhance the 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

Other benefits to States by National Waterways are : fewer accidents, less congestion on roads, cheaper mode of ferrying passengers, reduced logistics costs in cargo movement and development of adjoining areas. 

Note :- As per Entry 24 of the Union List of the 7th Schedule of the Constitution, Union Government is empowered to make laws on shipping and navigation on inland waterways which are classified as national waterways by Parliament .

Inland Waterways

India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14,500 km, out of which about 5200 km of the river and 4000 km of canals can be used by mechanised crafts. They are cheapest and environment friendly modes of Transportation. They are most suitable for carrying heavy and bulky goods.

Five national waterways are :-

  1. National Waterway 1:- Between Allahabad and Haldia (1620 km) on Ganga River
  2. National Waterway 2 :- Between Sadiya and Dhubri (891 km)
  3. National Waterway 3 :- West Coast Canal (205 km) in Kerala 
  4. National Waterway 4 :- Kakinada–Pondicherry stretch River Godavari and Wazirabad–Vijayawada stretch of River Krishna in Andhra Pradesh
  5. National Waterway 5 :- Talcher–Dhamra (620 km) stretch on Mahanadi River.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

Inland Waterways Authority of India (भारतीय अंतर्देशीय जलमार्ग प्राधिकरण) was created by Government of India on 27 October 1986 for development and regulation of Inland waterways for shipping and navigation. Head office :- Noida

The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of Inland Waterway Terminal infrastructure on National Waterways through grant received from Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways.

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