• India has over 14500 km of waters that can be navigated which accounts only for about 1% of the country’s transportation. This includes canal backwaters, rivers and creeks amongst many other types of water bodies.
    • However, these inland waterways have been unutilised, as compared to other countries in the world.
  • Around 3700 km of major rivers are navigable by mechanised flat bottom vessels however, at present only 2000 km is actually used. Only 900 km out of the 4800 km of the navigable canal is used by mechanised vessels. Approximately 180 lakh tons of material is transported through these waterways.
  • National Waterways Act came into effect in 2016. It proposed 106 additional National Waterways and merges 5 existing Acts which were declared the 5 National Waterways. As a result, 106 new waterways were identified by IWAI and intimated to MoS.
  • The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is responsible for the timely execution of national waterways projects and to ensure improved water transportation in India.
  • Under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 inland waterways (including five national waterways in India declared earlier) have been declared as ‘national waterways’.
    • Out of the 111, National Waterways declared under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 13 are operational for shipping and navigation and cargo/passenger vessels are moving on them.
National Waterways in India

Inland Waterways Authority of India

  • This body was created by the government of India in 1986 for regulating and developing inland waterways for shipping and navigation.
  • The body chiefly undertakes development and maintenance projects of IWT infrastructure on national waterways.
  • It undertakes these projects through grants from the Shipping Ministry.
  • Its headquarters is in Noida.
  • It also has regional offices in various other cities and towns across the country.

National Waterways

  • National Waterways 1 or NW1
    • It starts from Allahabad(Prayagraj) to Haldia with a distance of 1620 km.
    • The NW 1 run through the Ganges, Bhagirathi, and Hooghly river system with having fixed terminals at Haldia, Farrakka, and Patna and floating terminals at most of the riverside cities like Kolkata, Bhagalpur, Varanasi, and Allahabad.
    • It is be the longest National Waterways in India.
National Waterways 1
  • National Waterways 2
    • It is a stretch on the Brahmaputra river from Sadiya to Dhubri in Assam state.
    • The NW 2 is one of the major freight transportation waterways of northeast India and the third-longest Waterways with and a total length of 891 km.
National Waterways 2
  • National waterways 3 or the West Coast Canal
    • It is located in Kerala state and runs from Kollam to Kottapuram.
    • The 205 km long West Coast Canal is India’s first waterway with all-time navigation facility.
    • The NW3 is consists of the West Coast Canal, Champakara Canal, and Udyogmandal Canal and runs through Kottappuram, Cherthala, Thrikkunnapuzha Kollam, and Alappuzha.
National Waterways 3
  • National Waterway 4
    • It is connected from Kakinada to Pondicherry through Canals, Tank, and River Godavari along with Krishna river.
    • The NW 4 the second-longest waterway of India with a total length of 1095 km in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
National Waterways 4
  • National Waterway 5
    • It connects Orissa to West Bengal using the stretch on Brahmani River, East Coast Canal, Matai river, and Mahanadi River Delta.
    • The 623 km long canal system will handle the traffic of cargo such as coal, fertilizer, cement, and iron.
National Waterways 5
  • National waterway 6
    • It is the proposed waterway in Assam state and will connect Lakhipur to Bhanga in river Barak.
    • The 121 km long waterway will help in trading between the town of Silchar to Mizoram State.
National Waterways 6

Operational National Waterways in India

NW NumberRiver SystemRouteLocations
NW – 1Ganga-Bhagirathi-HooghlyPrayagraj – HaldiaUttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, West Bengal
NW – 2BrahmaputraSadiya-DhubriAssam
NW – 3West Coast Canal, Champakara Canal, and Udyogamandal CanalKottapuram – KollamKerala
NW – 4Krishna and GodavariKakinada–Puducherry stretch of canals, Kaluvelly Tank, Bhadrachalam – Rajahmundry, Waziraba–VijayawadaAndhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry
NW – 10Amba RiverMaharashtra
NW – 83Rajpuri CreekMaharashtra
NW – 85Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River SystemMaharashtra
NW – 91Shastri river–Jaigad creek systemMaharashtra
NW – 68Mandovi – Usgaon Bridge to the Arabian SeaGoa
NW – 111Zuari– Sanvordem Bridge to Marmugao PortGoa
NW – 73Narmada RiverGujarat and Maharashtra
NW – 100Tapi RiverGujarat and Maharashtra
NW – 97 (Sundarbans Waterways)Namkhana to AtharaBankiKhalIndo-Bangladesh Protocol RouteWest Bengal

25 National Waterways found feasible for Cargo/Passenger Movement

National WaterwayDetails of WaterwaysSTATES
National Waterway 1Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System (Haldia – Allahabad)Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand & West Bengal
National Waterway 2Brahmaputra River (Dhubri – Sadiya)Assam
National Waterway 16Barak RiverAssam
National Waterway 3West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kollam), Champakara and Udyogmandal CanalsKerala
National Waterway 4Krishna River (Vijayawada – Muktyala)Andhra Pradesh
National Waterway 5Dhamra-Paradio via Mangalagadi to PankopalOdisha
National Waterway 8Alappuzha- Changanassery CanalKerala
National Waterway 9Alappuzha-Kottayam – Athirampuzha CanalKerala
Alternate route: 11.5km
National Waterway 27Cumberjua RiverGoa
National Waterway 68Mandovi RiverGoa
National Waterway 86Rupnarayan RiverWest Bengal
National Waterway 97Sunderbans WaterwayWest Bengal
National Waterway 111Zuari RiverGoa
National Waterway 10Amba RiverMaharashtra
National Waterway 40Ghagra RiverBihar
National Waterway 44Ichamati RiverWest Bengal
National Waterway 52Kali RiverKarnataka
National Waterway 57Kopili RiverAssam
National Waterway 25Chapora RiverGoa
National Waterway 37Gandak RiverBihar
National Waterway 28Dabhol Creek Vasisti RiverMaharashtra
National Waterway 73Narmada RiverMaharashtra & Gujarat
National Waterway 85Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River SystemMaharashtra
National Waterway 94Sone RiverBihar
National Waterway 100Tapi RiverMaharashtra & Gujarat
inland waterways in india

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