New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) A workshop to discuss various issues of the shipping ministry, including freight traffic potential for inland waterways under the Sagarmala Programmes, was organised here.
The workshop which was organised on Friday also focused on the ways to increase the share of inland waterways in India’s modal mix to reduce logistics costs with minimal investment, as envisioned in the Sagarmala National Perspective plan.
“The scope for leveraging the Indo-Bangladesh agreement on coastal shipping and extended protocol routes on inland water transit was also discussed. This will enable cheaper movement of cargo to and from North East India and will decongest the road and rail networks, through Siliguri corridor, which are currently being utilized for the same,” said a statement from the Shipping Ministry.
The workshop was chaired by Amitabh Verma, Chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) apart from various representatives from the Shipping ministry and public and private sector companies like Tata Steel, SAIL, Ultra-tech and IFFCO.
IWAI representatives highlighted the infrastructure development work currently being undertaken to increase the navigability of the national waterways and the business development efforts to increase the freight traffic volumes.
“It was also informed that IWAI will take forward the discussion with the private sector and public sector companies who have expressed long term interest in utilizing the National Waterways for freight movement,” said the statement.
India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks.
Of the total navigable length of 14,500 km, 5,200 km of rivers and 4,000 km of canals can be used by mechanized craft. However, approximately 90 percent of freight in India currently moves through land transport (road, rail, pipelines).
“Share of waterways (coastal shipping and inland waterways) in India’s modal mix is lower as compared to countries like USA and China,” said the statement.