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Waterway | Inland Water Transport | Transport-Communication- and Trade |Geography of India

Waterways are other means of transport apart from roadways, railways, and airways.
Waterways are of two types:
  • Inland water transport
  • Oceanic water transport

Inland water transport in India:
Despite having many perennial rivers and river systems in India, inland water transport is not much developed or used as compared to other countries.
In 1842, many boat services were functioning between Agara and Calcutta, and also functioning in the Brahmaputra river.
The following are policies are adopted by India to promote inland water transport:
  • The inland water transport directorate was set up in 1965.
  • The center inland water transport corporation was set up in 1967.
  • The river committee was set up by the Ministry of Shipping and Transport in 1972.
  • National Waterways Act in 2016.

As per the National waterways Act, 2016. There are 111 officially notified National Waterways in India.
There are some important National Waterways in India:
  • NW-1:
    • Prayagraj Haldiya; Ganga-Bhagirath- Hoogli.
  • NW-2:
    • Sadiya- Dhubri in Brahmaputra river.
  • NW-3:
    • Kollam- Kozhikode
  • NW-4;
    • Kakinada Puducherry.
National Inland Water Transport
National Inland Water Transport

Despite having the above efforts, inland waterways are not developed, the following are the main geographical hurdle of inland waterways apart from technical and financial hurdles:
  • The development of railways decreased the importance of inland waterways.
  • Erection of river canals and drawing of water from the river reduces the water level.
  • Larger river such as Ganga and Brahmaputra creates delta in their mouth, and shallow water and delta in the mouth of the river make it unsuitable for connection with the ocean.
  • West flowing peninsular river meets the sea with estuary but river length is short, steep gradients, the frequent waterfall makes unsuitable for inland transportation.

The following are the importance of inland water transport or waterways:
  • It is very cheap as compared to other transport ways.
  • Fuel efficiency is very good
  • It is an environmentally friendly means of transport.
  • It will reduce the import of crude oil if successfully able to reduce road transportation.
  • The region along the highway is already developed as compared to the region along the river. The promotion of inland water transport will benefit the development of rivers.
Try to solve the following questions:
  • Discuss the problems and prospects of National Waterway No.1. (UPSC 2014, 200 words, 15 marks)
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