India’s inland cargo transportation on waterways rose by 36.43 per cent to 72.31 million tonnes (mt) in 2018-2019, from 55.20 mt in 2016-17 and 55.03 mt in 2017-18. The Minister of State for Shipping (I/C) and Chemical & Fertilizers in a written reply to a question in Lok Sabha said that several initiatives taken to increase the use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater Cargo Shipment. The Minister informed that 111 National Waterways are being developed in phased manner for the purpose of shipping and navigation.

“Various initiatives have been taken by the Government to increase the use of Inland Waterways and Coastal Shipping for greater cargo shipment. These include providing assured depth of water in the channels, navigation aids like GPS and River Information System, terminals at regular intervals, facilities for mechanized handling of cargo handling etc,” the minister noted. A minimum 40 per cent discount and priority in berthing is being given to coastal vessels at major ports.

Ministry of Fertilizers and Department of Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade have respectively agreed to provide subsidy for transportation of fertilizers and for transportation of raw materials and finished goods for new industrial units in North Eastern Region through IWT mode. Licensing relaxations have been made under section 406 and 407 of the Merchant Shipping Act 1958 for fertilizers, agricultural products, fisheries, horticultural, and animal husbandry products, empty containers and containers being transhipped from another Indian port, special vessels such as Ro-Ro, Ro-Pax, Project cargo or ODC. Allowing carriage of coastal containers through the territorial waters of Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Myanmar and streamlining of mechanism for freight subsidy reimbursement for fertilizers are other steps taken in this direction.

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