Context:

The Union Cabinet gave the nod to the Inland Vessels Bill, 2021, which will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917.

Relevance:

GS-II: Polity and Governance (Government Policies and Initiatives), GS-III: Industry and Infrastructure

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Inland Canals and Waterways in India
  2. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
  3. Legislations regarding Inland Waterways in India
  4. Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

Inland Canals and Waterways in India

  • India has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks. The total navigable length is 14,500 km (9,000 mi), out of which about 5,200 km (3,200 mi) of river and 4,000 km (2,500 mi) of canal can be used by mechanized crafts. About 44 million tonnes (49,000,000 short tons) of cargo are moved annually through these waterways using mechanized vessels and country boats.
  • Cargo transported in an organized manner is confined to a few waterways in Goa, West Bengal, Assam and Kerala. Inland waterways consist of the Ganges-Bhagirathi-Hooghly rivers, the Brahmaputra, the Barak river, the rivers in Goa, the backwaters in Kerala, inland waters in Mumbai and the deltaic regions of the Godavari-Krishna rivers.
  • As per the National Waterways Act, 2016, 111 water ways have been declared as National Waterways (NW) and these National Waterways pass through 24 states and two union territories, with an approximate total length of 20274 km.

Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)

  • Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) is the statutory authority in charge of the waterways in India, constituted under IWAI Act-1985 and headquartered in Noida, UP.
  • It does the function of building the necessary infrastructure in these waterways, surveying the economic feasibility of new projects and also administration.
  • The Authority primarily undertakes projects for development and maintenance of Inland Waterway Terminal infrastructure on National Waterways through grant received from Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Road Transport and Highways.

Legislations regarding Inland Waterways in India

  1. The Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985: The Act provides for the constitution of an Authority for the regulation and development of inland waterways for purposes of shipping and navigation and for matters related to it (IWAI). The Inland Waterways Authority of India was formed in 1986.
  2. Indian Vessels Act of 1917 (amended in 2007): It deals with the survey and registration of inland vessels, removal of obstructions in navigation, carriage of goods and passengers, prevention and control of pollution etc.
  3. Inland Water Transport Policy 2001: Policy talks about IWT being economic, fuel-efficient and environment friendly mode of transport. It advocates large-scale private sector participation both for creation of infrastructure and for fleet operations.
  4. National Waterways Act 2016: The Act declared 111 rivers or river stretches, creeks, estuaries as National (inland) Waterways. It enables the Central Government to regulate these waterways for development with regard to shipping, navigation and transport through mechanically propelled vessels.

Inland Vessels Bill, 2021

  • A key feature of the Bill is a unified law for the entire country, instead of separate rules framed by the States.
  • The certificate of registration granted under the proposed law will be deemed to be valid in all States and Union Territories, and there will be no need to seek separate permissions from the States
  • The Bill provides for a central data base for recording the details of vessel, vessel registration, crew on an electronic portal. It requires all mechanically propelled vessels to be mandatorily registered. All non-mechanically propelled vessels will also have to be enrolled at district, taluk or panchayat or village level.

-Source: The Hindu

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