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All you need to know about India’s national waterways


Efficient transportation is crucial for any country and for its economic growth. The 14,500 kilometres of navigable waterways in India, present huge opportunities as an economical mode of transportation. Considering the challenges in land acquisition for national and state highways and the rising cost of construction of road infrastructure, the government is aiming to utilise the potential of waterways. Under the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 inland waterways (including five national waterways declared earlier) have been declared as ‘national waterways’.

The aim of the government is to promote inland water transport in India as an economical, environment-friendly and supplementary mode of transportation to rail and road. The development of national waterways is also expected to boost industrial growth of the hinterland along the waterways.

 

What are national waterways?

India has a vast network of inland waterways that include river bodies, canals, backwaters and creeks. However, these inland waterways have been unutilised, as compared to other countries in the world. The National Waterways Act proposed 106 additional national waterways to the five national waterways declared earlier. 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.

 

All you need to know about India’s national waterways

 

Operational national waterways of India

Out of the 111 national waterways, there are 13 national waterways that are operational for shipping and navigation. These are:

  • National Waterway 1: Ganga-Bhagirathi – Hooghly River System (Haldia – Allahabad)
  • National Waterway 2: Brahmaputra River (Dhubri – Sadiya)
  • National Waterway 3: West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kollam), Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals
  • National Waterway 4: Phase – 1 development of the stretch Muktiyala to Vijayawada of river Krishna
  • National Waterway 10: Amba River
  • National Waterway 83: Rajpuri Creek
  • National Waterway 85: Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River System
  • National Waterway 91: Shastri river – Jaigad creek system
  • National Waterway 68: Mandovi – Usgaon Bridge to the Arabian Sea spanning 41 kilometres
  • National Waterway 111: Zuari – Sanvordem Bridge to Marmugao Port spanning 50 kilometres
  • National Waterway 73: Narmada river
  • National Waterway 100: Tapi river
  • National Waterway 97 or Sunderbans Waterways: Namkhana to AtharaBankiKhal in West Bengal

See also: All about the Bharatmala Pariyojana

 

About Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is responsible for the development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. Launched in October 1986, the Noida-headquartered Authority has regional offices across different cities. It mainly undertakes projects for developing and maintaining the Inland Water Transport (IWT) infrastructure on national waterways through grants from the Shipping Ministry.

The RITES Report of 2014 on Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid, highlighted fuel efficiency and cost savings as some important benefits of the IWT mode, as compared to rail and road transportation.

The Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid is a study undertaken by IWAI through RITES Limited, a consultancy agency, with the objective of linking all national waterways to national/state highways, railways and ports, to make them an integral part of the total transportation grid. The estimated cost of the overall project is Rs 22,763 crores. It was planned for implementation under two phases, phase 1 (2015-18) and phase 2 (2018-23).

 

National waterways: Latest news

Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP)

The Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP) was undertaken by the IWAI, for capacity augmentation of navigation on National Waterway 1 from Haldia to Varanasi, spanning a length of 1,390 kms. It was approved by the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) on January 3, 2018. The project, being developed with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank, has an estimated cost of Rs 5,369 crores. The first multi-modal terminal on the Ganga in Varanasi was inaugurated under the project in November 2018.

Indian government introduces the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

To promote economical and safe transportation and to bring uniformity in the law relating to inland waterways and navigation in India, the government introduced the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021 in the Lok Sabha on July 22, 2021. It aims to provide safe navigation, protection of life and cargo and prevention of pollution due to the use of inland vessels. According to the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, the bill will bring transparency and accountability to the administration of inland water transportation, strengthen procedures governing inland vessels, their construction, survey, registration, manning and navigation, and other related matters. One of the key features of the bill, which will replace the Inland Vessels Act of 1917, is the formation of a unified law for the country, instead of separate rules formulated by states.

 

List of national waterways in India

National waterway no Length (in kilometres)

 

Location details
National Waterway 1

States: Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand and West Bengal

1,620 Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System (Haldia – Allahabad).
National Waterway 2

State: Assam

891 Brahmaputra River (Dhubri – Sadiya)
National Waterway 3

State: Kerala

205 West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kollam), Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals
170 West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kozhikode)
National Waterway 4

States: Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Pondichery and Maharashtra

50 Kakinada Canal (Kakinada to Rajahmundry)
171 Godavari river (Bhadrachalam to Rajahmundry)
139 Eluru Canal (Rajahmundry to Vijayawada)
157 Krishna river (Wazirabad to Vijayawada)
113 Commamur Canal (Vijayawada to Peddaganjam)
110 South Buckingham canal (Central Station of Chennai to Marakanam)
22 Marakanam to Puducherry through Kaluvelly tank
1,202 River Godavari (Bhadrachalam – Nashik)
636 River Krishna (Wazirabad – Galagali)
National Waterway 5

States: Odisha and West Bengal

256 East Coast Canal and Matai river
265 Brahmani-Kharsua-Dhamra rivers
67 Mahanadi delta rivers (Consisting of Hansua river, Nunanala, Gobrinala, Kharnasi river and Mahanadi river)
National Waterway 6

State: Assam

68 Aai River
National Waterway 7

State: West Bengal

90 Ajoy (Ajay) River
National Waterway 8

State: Kerala

29 Alappuzha- Changanassery Canal
National Waterway 9

State: Kerala, Alternate route: 11.5 kilometre

40 Alappuzha- Kottayam – Athirampuzha Canal
National Waterway 10

State: Maharashtra

45 Amba River
National Waterway 11

State: Maharashtra

99 Arunawati – Aran River System
National Waterway 12

State: Uttar Pradesh

5.5 Asi River
National Waterway 13

State: Kerala and Tamil Nadu

11 Avm Canal
National Waterway 14

State: Odisha

48 Baitarni River
National Waterway 15

State: West Bengal

135 Bakreswar – Mayurakshi River System
National Waterway 16

State: Assam

121 Barak River
National Waterway 17

State: Himachal Pradesh and Punjab

189 Beas River
National Waterway 18

State: Assam

69 Beki River
National Waterway 19

State: Uttar Pradesh

67 Betwa River
National Waterway 20

State: Tamil Nadu

95 Bhavani River
National Waterway 21

State: Karnataka and Telangana

139 Bheema River
National Waterway 22

State: Odisha

156 Birupa – BadiGenguti – Brahmani River System
National Waterway 23

State: Odisha

56 BudhaBalanga
National Waterway 24

State: Uttar Pradesh

61 Chambal River
National Waterway 25

State: Goa

33 Chapora River
National Waterway 26

State: Jammu and Kashmir

51 Chenab River
National Waterway 27

State: Goa

17 Cumberjua River
National Waterway 28

State: Maharashtra

45 Dabhol Creek -Vashishti River System
National Waterway 29

State: West Bengal

132 Damodar River
National Waterway 30

State: Assam

109 Dehing River
National Waterway 31

State: Assam

114 Dhansiri / Chathe
National Waterway 32

State: Assam

63 Dikhu River
National Waterway 33

State: Assam

61 Doyans River
National Waterway 34

State: West Bengal

137 Dvc Canal
National Waterway 35

State: West Bengal

108 Dwarekeswar River
National Waterway 36

State: West Bengal

119 Dwarka River
National Waterway 37

State: Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

296 Gandak River
National Waterway 38

State: Assam and West Bengal

62 Gangadhar River
National Waterway 39

State: Meghalaya

49 Ganol River
National Waterway 40

State: Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

354 Ghaghra River
National Waterway 41

State: Karnataka

112 Ghataprabha River
National Waterway 42

State: Uttar Pradesh

514 Gomti River
National Waterway 43

State: Karnataka

10 Gurupur River
National Waterway 44

State: West Bengal

63 Ichamati River
National Waterway 45

State: Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan

650 Indira Gandhi Canal
National Waterway 46

State: Jammu and Kashmir

35 Indus River
National Waterway 47

State: West Bengal

131 Jalangi River
National Waterway 48

State: Gujarat and Rajasthan

590 Jawai-Luni-Rann Of Kutch River System
National Waterway 49

State: Jammu and Kashmir

110 Jhelum River
National Waterway 50

State: Assam and Meghalaya

43 Jinjiram River
National Waterway 51

State: Karnataka

23 Kabini River
National Waterway 52

State: Karnataka

53 Kali River
National Waterway 53

State: Maharashtra

145 Kalyan-Thane-Mumbai Waterway, Vasai Creek And Ulhas River System
National Waterway 54

State: Bihar and Uttar Pradesh

86 Karamnasa River
National Waterway 55

State: Tamil Nadu

311 Kaveri – Kollidam River System
National Waterway 56

State: Jharkhand

22 Kherkai River
National Waterway 57

State: Assam

50 Kopili River
National Waterway 58

State: Bihar

236 Kosi River
National Waterway 59

State: Kerala

19 Kottayam-Vaikom Canal
National Waterway 60

State: West Bengal

80 Kumari River
National Waterway 61

State: Meghalaya

28 Kynshi River
National Waterway 62

State: Assam and Arunachal Pradesh

86 Lohit River
National Waterway 63

State: Rajasthan

336 Luni River
National Waterway 64

State: Odisha

426 Mahanadi River
National Waterway 65

State: West Bengal

80 Mahananda River
National Waterway 66

State: Gujarat

247 Mahi River
National Waterway 67

State: Karnataka

94 Malaprabha River
National Waterway 68

State: Goa

41 Mandovi River
National Waterway 69

State: Tamil Nadu

5 Manimutharu River
National Waterway 70

State: Maharashtra and Telangana

245 Manjara River
National Waterway 71

State: Goa

27 Mapusa / Moide River
National Waterway 72

State: Maharashtra

59 Nag River
National Waterway 73

State: Maharashtra and Gujarat

226 Narmada River
National Waterway 74

State: Karnataka

79 Netravathi River
National Waterway 75

State: Tamil Nadu

142 Palar River
National Waterway 76

State: Karnataka

23 Panchagangavali (Panchagangoli) River
National Waterway 77

State: Tamil Nadu

20 Pazhyar River
National Waterway 78

State: Maharashtra and Telangana

262 Penganaga – Wardha River System
National Waterway 79

State: Andhra Pradesh

28 Pennar River
National Waterway 80

State: Tamil Nadu

126 Ponniyar River
National Waterway 81

State: Bihar

35 Punpun River
National Waterway 82

State: Assam

58 Puthimari River
National Waterway 83

State: Maharashtra

31 Rajpuri Creek
National Waterway 84

State: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab

44 Ravi River
National Waterway 85

State: Maharashtra

31 Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River System
National Waterway 86

State: West Bengal

72 Rupnarayan River
National Waterway 87

State: Gujarat

210 Sabarmati River
National Waterway 88

State: Goa

14 Sal River
National Waterway 89

State: Maharashtra

45 Savitri River (Bankot Creek)
National Waterway 90

State: Karnataka

29 Sharavati River
National Waterway 91

State: Maharashtra

52 Shastri River – Jaigad Creek System
National Waterway 92

State: West Bengal

26 Silabati River
National Waterway 93

State: Meghalaya

63 Simsang River
National Waterway 94

State: Bihar

141 Sone River
National Waterway 95

State: Assam

106 Subansiri River
National Waterway 95

State: Jharkhand, West Bengal and Odisha

311 Subarnrekha River
National Waterway 97

State: West Bengal

172 Sunderbans Waterway
56 Bidya River
15 ChhotaKalagachi (ChhotoKalergachi) River
7 Gomar River
16 Haribhanga River
37 Hogla (Hogal)-Pathankhali River
9 Kalindi (Kalandi) River
22 Katakhali River
99 Matla River
28 Muri Ganga (Baratala) River
53 Raimangal River
14 Sahibkhali (Sahebkhali) River
37 Saptamukhi River
64 Thakurran River
National Waterway 98

State: Himachal Pradesh and Punjab

377 Sutlej River
National Waterway 99

State: Tamil Nadu

62 Tamaraparani River
National Waterway 100

State: Maharashtra and Gujarat

436 Tapi River
National Waterway 101

State: Nagaland

42 Tizu – Zungki Rivers
National Waterway 102

State: Assam and Mizoram

87 Tlwang (Dhaleswari River)
National Waterway 103

State: Uttar Pradesh

73 Tons River
National Waterway 104

State: Karnataka, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh

232 Tungabhadra River
National Waterway 105

State: Karnataka

15 Udayavara River
National Waterway 106

State: Meghalaya

20 Umngot (Dawki) River
National Waterway 107

State: Tamil Nadu

46 Vaigai River
National Waterway 108

State: Uttar Pradesh

53 Varuna River
National Waterway 109

State: Maharashtra and Telangana

166 Wainganga – Pranahita

River System

National Waterway 110

State: Delhi, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh

1,080 Yamuna River
National Waterway 111

State: Goa

50 Zuari River

See also: How waterways can boost connectivity and growth in the MMR

 

FAQs

How many national waterways are in India?

There are a total of 111 inland waterways which have been declared as National Waterways in India.

Which is the longest national waterway?

The longest national waterway is the National Waterway 1 or the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly river system, running from Prayagraj in Uttar Pradesh to Haldia in West Bengal and covers a length of 1,620 kilometres.

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