The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is a statutory body established by the Government of India in 1986, responsible for the development and regulation of inland waterways for shipping and navigation. It functions under the Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, with its headquarters in Noida, Uttar Pradesh. IWAI’s network includes an extensive array of rivers, canals, backwaters, and creeks, with a total navigable length of 14,500 km. However, freight transportation via these waterways is significantly under-utilized in India.
In January 2024, IWAI hosted the inaugural ‘Inland Waterways Development Council’ meeting in Kolkata, emphasizing the comprehensive development of India’s inland waterways. This meeting included the unveiling of “Harit Nauka – Guidelines for Green Transition of Inland Vessels” and the “River Cruise Tourism Roadmap 2047.” These initiatives are part of IWAI’s broader objectives, such as increasing the modal share of Inland Water Transportation (IWT) from 2% to 5% and elevating the IWT cargo volume significantly.
IWAI’s role encompasses building necessary infrastructure in waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects, and administration. The recent initiatives and projects under IWAI reflect India’s commitment to enhancing its inland waterways for improved cargo efficiency, passenger movement, and the promotion of eco-friendly and sustainable practices in waterway transportation.