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The maiden edition of Inland Waterways Development Council (IWDC) in Kolkata culminated with many firsts in an effort to ramp up capacity and augment viability of inland waterways of the country. The meet, chaired by the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways and Ayush, Shri Sarbananda Sonowal was attended by key stakeholders including ministerial representations from states as well as prominent stakeholders including policy makers and the industry leaders.

What is Inland Water Ways Development Council?

  • The establishment of the Inland Waterways Development Council in October 2023 by the Government of India underscores its commitment to comprehensive development of inland waterways and the associated Inland Water Transport (IWT) ecosystem for improved cargo efficiency, passenger movement, and river cruise tourism, with active participation from States and Union Territories.
  • The meet, with an objective to enable inland waterways as conduits of economic growth and commerce in the country, committed an investment ₹45,000 crore for development of river cruise tourism in the country.
  • Of this ambitious sum, an estimated ₹35,000 crore has been earmarked for cruise vessels and another ₹10,000 crore for development of cruise terminal infrastructure at the end of Amrit Kaal, i.e. by 2047.
  • To amp up inland waterways for cargo trade, an investment of ₹15,200 crore has been arrived at the Global Maritime India Summit (GMIS) held in Mumbai in October, 2023. This is likely to register a growth rate of more than 400%, increasing the volume upto 500 Million Tonnes Per Annum (MTPA) by 2047.
  • Shri Sonowal also launched ‘Harit Nauka’ guidelines and ‘River Cruise Tourism Roadmap, 2047’ at the inaugural session of IWDC in Kollkata today.
  • The Government, in alignment with its vision to enhance the role of IWT, initiated various measures, including the flagship Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) for the development of the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system (NW 1). This project focused on cargo, Ro-Ro, and passenger ferry movement, along with the inclusion of small villages through community jetties. Moreover, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW) set ambitious targets, aiming to increase the modal share of IWT from 2% to 5%, as outlined in the Maritime India Vision 2030.
  • Inland Water Transportation (IWT) provided a unique opportunity to promote the use of electric, hybrid, hydrogen, and derivative (such as ammonia or methanol) propulsion fuels for ships.