The Uttar Pradesh government has identified eight rivers as potential inland waterways for the movement of goods and people. These rivers include Yamuna, Gomti, Assi, Ghaghra, Rapti, Betwa, Chambal, and Varuna.
This strategic move aims to tap into the untapped potential of Uttar Pradesh’s river network and enhance the transportation sector.
Inland water transport is recognized as a cost-effective mode of transportation, particularly for bulk commodities such as coal, iron ore, cement, food grains, and fertilizers.
This initiative aligns with the Maritime India Vision (MIV) 2030, a central government plan to increase the share of inland water transport to five percent by 2030. Currently, it stands at two percent in India’s transportation mix.
Uttar Pradesh has already begun working towards achieving this target by announcing the establishment of an Inland Waterways Authority to promote and regulate water transport in the state.
The authority will comprise officials from the transport, irrigation, and tourism departments to oversee the development and management of these waterways. Initially, the transport department officials have been assigned the task of surveying the prospective waterways.
Transport Minister Dayashankar Singh stated, “The plan is in the initial survey phase. The modalities will be decided based on the survey and the feasibility of different rivers. However, we are committed to strengthening and expanding the waterways.”
The recent Ganga Vilas luxury cruise, which covered over 3,200 km across 27 river systems in India and Bangladesh, has further demonstrated the potential of waterways for public transportation.
“Apart from cargo transport, we are also planning to enhance public mobility for both short and long distances. The transport department intends to introduce water taxis in feasible river routes. Further details will be available after the completion of the survey,” said Singh.
Following the survey, the focus will shift to fairway development to ensure the minimum required depth for smooth navigation of water taxis and cargo boats.
Under the MIV 2030 initiative, work is currently underway to achieve a minimum available depth of 2.5 m in the Barh-Ghazipur section and 2.2 m in the Ghazipur-Varanasi stretch of the Ganga, which falls under National Waterway-1. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is leading this project with technical and financial support from the World Bank.