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Sunday, July 21, 2024

India Unveils Ambitious Rs 45,000 Crore Plan for Inland Waterway Development

The inaugural meeting of the Inland Waterways Development Council (IWDC) in India has ushered in a significant investment of Rs 45,000 crore dedicated to the comprehensive development of the country’s inland waterways. In a strategic move, an estimated Rs 35,000 crores has been allocated for the enhancement of cruise vessels, with an additional Rs 10,000 crores earmarked for the development of cruise terminal infrastructure by the year 2047. These substantial investments are anticipated to fuel a fourfold increase in cargo volume, reaching an impressive 500 million tonnes per annum by 2047.

The IWDC serves as the apex advisory body for steering the development of the inland waterway sector in India, with representation from states across the nation, including North-Eastern states like Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura, and Nagaland. States with extensive river systems, such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in North India, are also integral participants in the decision-making process related to waterway development.

Comparable to the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC), which concentrates on the development of ports and coastal states, the IWDC’s commitment to inland waterway development aligns with the government’s vision for robust infrastructure and transportation networks.

The launch of the ‘Harit Nauka’ guidelines and the ‘River Cruise Tourism Roadmap, 2047’ was inaugurated by Union Ports, Shipping, and Inland Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal. Minister Sonowal emphasized the key goals of the roadmap, which identified over 30 potential routes catering to various cruise types, ranging from long and short to recreational and heritage segments. He outlined an action plan encompassing route development, marketing strategy, infrastructure development, and navigation to effectively propel the expansion of river cruises.

As part of this ambitious plan, the central government aims to develop an additional 26 waterways conducive to river cruise tourism, supplementing the existing operational strength of eight waterways. The number of cruise circuits with night stays is slated to increase from 17 to 80 within the specified period. Moreover, the plan envisions a significant boost in the number of river cruise terminals, increasing from the current 15 to a projected 185. Local cruise tourism traffic on National Waterways, without night stay, is also anticipated to surge from 2 lakh to 15 lakh by 2047, underscoring the comprehensive nature of India’s vision for the future of inland waterway development.

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