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Inland waterways transportation A better substitute for road and rail transportation

Inland waterways transportation A better substitute for road and rail transportation

On 27 October 1986, The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was formed to develop and regulate inland waterways for cargo shipping and passenger transport. The country is boasted with more than 14000 kilometers of navigable waterways that comprises different types of water bodies such as, rivers, canals, and backwaters. It is a fuel efficient and environment friendly way of transportation. More than 50 million tons of consignments are shipped every year through these waterways. Organized vessels and unorganized country boats both operate through these inland waterways that result in a substantial number of consignments and passengers are transported every year. The key waterways stretch in the country are inland watersways in Mumbai, stretches in the Ganga and Hooghly rivers, backwaters of Kerala, and the region of Godavari and Krishna rivers.


Importance of Inland waterways

Inland waterways are a good substitute to road and rail freight transportation in the country. Passable inland waterways are defined as the expanses of water bodies that are not portions of any sea or ocean, but they are suitable for vessel transportation. Cargo shipment from the inland waterways is cost-effective and fuel efficient. Thus, it is also an eco-friendly option for freight shipment and passenger transportation. With increasing congestion, traffic on road, and emission of harmful gases in our environment, the water transportation mode can be utilized for commercial shipment at a large scale in the coming years. It offers a better option from roadways and railways transportation modes in terms of energy, pollution, and cost of shipment. Some case studies suggest that waterways transportation needs around 20 percent less energy consumption that results in less pollution and cost of the shipment.


Future of Waterways Transportation

Because of lack of investment, inland waterways transportation has not been utilized to its full potential. However, in the last few years, the true potential and benefits of waterways transportation have been realized and respective authorities are working on improving the waterways channelization and docking facilities. In the near future, we can see a rapid increase in the use of inland waterways for cargo shipment and passenger transportation. It can become a potential substitute for road and railways and offer an environment friendly option to ship consignments in and around different cities.   


Technological Perspective of Waterways Transpiration

Technological innovations are utilized to improve the efficiency of waterways transportation and make it more cost-effective and less time consuming. Using natural gas as a fuel, improved vessel designs, modern equipment for loading and unloading of cargo, and reduction in emission of harmful wastes are some important technological advancements in the field of waterways transportation. In addition, information technology platforms for continuous tracking and safety precautions are making waterways mode much more effective for commercial shipment in comparison to rail and road transportation. Many small to big companies are looking for waterways transportation to ship their goods and consignments.   


In the coming decade, you can see a multi-fold increase in  inland waterways transportation because of its continuous improving efficiency and cost-effectiveness. Organized and unorganized both kinds of cargo and passenger shipment are contributing to its increasing reputation.