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September 26, 2023

The List of National Waterways of India

By Aakanksha Nigam

A country’s transportation system is crucial to its development, especially for one that is still developing like India. The nation has an abundance of diverse geography, which allows for a variety of modes of transportation. There are over 14500 miles of navigable waterways in India. This comprises creeks, rivers, canals, and backwaters.

The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) was established by the Indian government in 1986 to regulate and develop inland waterways for shipping and transportation.

In 2016, the National Waterways Act went into effect. It unified 5 current Acts that were designated as the 5 National Waterways and proposed 106 new National Waterways. IWAI subsequently discovered 106 new streams and informed MoS about them. In this regard, Act No. 17 (National Waterways Act, 2016) was issued as an Extraordinary Part II, Section I of the Gazette of India on March 26, 2016. 

There are 25 national waterways that are feasible for cargo/ passenger movement.

  • National Waterway 1: The Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly River System, connects Haldia to Prayagraj. Its development is taken up with Assistance from the World Bank Jal Marg Vikas Project.
  • National Waterway 2: It connects Dhubri to Sadiya via the Brahmaputra river.
  • National Waterway 3: Runs from  West Coast Canal (Kottapuram – Kollam) to Champakara and Udyogmandal Canals.
  • National Waterway 4: It connects Vijayawada to Muktyala via the Krishna River.
  • National Waterway 5: Dhamra-Paradio via Mangalagadi to Pankopal
  • National Waterway 52: In Karnataka on the Kali river.
  • National Waterway 8 and 9: runs from Alappuzha- Changanassery Canal and Alappuzha-Kottayam via Athirampuzha Canal in Kerala.
  • National Waterway 16 and 57: The Barak River and Kopili River in Assam.
  • National Waterway  25, 27, 68, and 111: On Chapora, Cumberjua, Mandovi, and Zuari River in Goa respectively.
  • National Waterway 10, 28, and 85: On Amba river, Dabhol Creek Vasisti river, and Revadanda Creek – Kundalika River System, in Maharashtra.
  • National Waterway 44, 86, and 97: On the Ichamati river, Rupnarayan river, and Sunderbans Waterway, respectively in West Bengal.
  • National Waterway 73 and 100: On Narmada and Tapi rivers, connecting Maharashtra to Gujarat.
  • National Waterway 37, 40, and 94: In Bihar on Gandhak, Ghagra, and Sone rivers.

As of now, IWAI is not contemplating interventions on National Waterways 28, 73, 85, 94, and 100, and substantial cargo moves in tidal waters/river mouths that are under the jurisdiction of the respective state maritime board.

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