HPAS Mains Syllabus General Studies Paper 1 : Indian Geography – Transport
Question :What are the advantages and challenges associated with Inland water transport in India? 8 Marks
|Understanding of question:|
|Introduction||Definition of Inland Waterways.|
|Main Body||Enlist the advantages of Inland Waterways.|
Enlist the Challenges associated with Inland waterways.
|Conclusion||Quote National Waterways Act 2016 and how these challenges could be overcome.|
A stretch of water, not part of the sea, over which craft of a carrying capacity not less than 50 tonnes can navigate when normally loaded is called navigable inland waterway. Rivers, lakes, canals, backwaters and reservoirs primarily constitute the source for inland waterways.
Inland water transport is recognized as fuel efficient, cost effective and environment-friendly mode of transport, especially for bulk goods, hazardous goods and over dimensional cargos. It also reduces time, cost of transportation of goods and cargos, as well as congestion and accidents on highways. They are expected to also “help create seamless interconnectivity connecting hinterlands along navigable river coasts and coastal routes” and “are likely to play a crucial role in connecting the north-eastern states to the mainland. A well-coordinated inland waterways network could bring a fundamental alteration in the logistics scenario of the country. It represents a ready built infrastructure network, which can be utilized without any further capital investment. Waterways can decongest roads, including highways by moving cargo away. Waterways do not involve challenges associated with land acquisition, which has always been a sensitive issue, causing time and cost overruns of numerous projects.
Challenges associated with the Inland Waterways in India
1. Inconsistent water flow: The basic prerequisite for water based transport is the consistent availability of water flow. There is a seasonal fall in water level in rivers especially in the Rain-fed Rivers of the peninsula which become nearly dry during summer.
2. Excessive siltation: Indian rivers face rapid siltation due to deforestation and erosion of uplands resulting in insufficient depth throughout navigable waters.
3. Diversion of river water: Rivers have considerably shrunk due to the increase in uptake from habitation, industry and agriculture. Regular flow has also decreased with large dams being built on river streams.
4. Inadequate infrastructure: it is pertinent to note the unavailability of cutting edge low draft vessels and inadequate infrastructure at terminals. Re-modelling the existing infrastructure will include gargantuan tasks like achieving vertical and horizontal clearances along river courses, setting up of permanent terminals, modal links and night navigation facilities, among others. Non-availability of permanent and mechanized handling terminals for loading and unloading with adequate infrastructure, connectivity to the other mode of transport with the terminal is another key factor.
5. Inadequate market confidence: The main challenge is to develop the confidence of the market for using waterways for commerce. Countries like China, Vietnam and Germany are more focused towards utilising inland waterways as a means of commerce and therefore the sector in these countries are maintained and progressive.
6. Environmental concerns: Inland river transport poses a serious concern for the already fragile ecosystem of Indian rivers. Many of the threatened aquatic species like Gangetic Dolphins, otters etc. are at risk from increased navigation on the rivers.
The National Waterways Act 2016, has declared 111 rivers or river stretches, creeks, estuaries in India as National Waterways. The national waterways project now intends to create such large-scale, commercial shipping and navigation systems in all these 111 waterways. The waterways are also proposed to be linked to the eastern and western Dedicated Freight Corridors (DFCs), as well as the Sagarmala Project, which aims to promote port-led direct and indirect development. The inland waterway in its full scope is conceived as part of an ambition to link several big infrastructure projects.
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