In a significant move towards enhancing India‘s inland waterways, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW) is gearing up for the inaugural ‘Inland Waterways Development Council‘ meeting on January 8, 2023, in Kolkata. This meeting, to be chaired by Minister Sarbananda Sonowal, will mark the launch of groundbreaking initiatives, including the River Cruise Tourism Roadmap 2047 as well as Harit Nauka – Guidelines for Green Transition of Inland Vessels.
According to MoPSW, the event will be an extensive platform featuring discussions on vital aspects such as private sector engagement, the promotion of eco-friendly vessels for passenger transportation and more. A pivotal focus will be on the economic advantages and sustainable practices linked with river cruise tourism. The inclusive discussions will emphasise the collaborative efforts required for the comprehensive development of inland waterways along with the flourishing sector of river cruise tourism.
Several Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) are also expected to be signed, signifying collaborative efforts towards advancing inland waterways and associated sectors.
With this event at the forefront, the Ministry aims to significantly increase the modal share of Inland Water Transportation (IWT) from 2 per cent to 5 per cent, aligning with the goals outlined in Maritime India Vision 2030.
In West Bengal, the Sagarmala Programme is actively driving maritime development with 62 projects valued at INR 16,300 Crores. Notably, 19 projects worth approximately INR 1,100 Crore have been successfully completed, while 43 projects, totaling around INR 15 thousand Crores, are at various stages of implementation. Among these initiatives, 11 projects, with a partial funding of around INR 650 Crore are making significant progress, said the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways (MoPSW). Six of these projects, valued at approximately INR 400 Crore, have reached completion, while the remaining five, worth INR 250 Crore, are in different phases of implementation.
Amid these advancements, various achievements in improving road connectivity and upgradation projects at ports showcase ongoing efforts toward enhancing safety, efficiency, and infrastructure development.
The establishment of the Inland Waterways Development Council in October 2023 by the Government of India further highlights the earnest commitment to advancing inland waterways and associated ecosystems, emphasising the significant role of states and union territories in this journey.