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India embarks on Rs 45,000 crore inland waterway development plan

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The maiden Inland Waterways Development Council (IWDC) has committed Rs 45,000 crore investment for developing inland waterways in the country. An official statement said an estimated Rs 35,000 crores has been earmarked for cruise vessels and another Rs 10,000 crores for development of cruise terminal infrastructure by 2047. These measures are expected to result in a four times growth the cargo volume to 500 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) by 2047.

IWDC is the apex advisory body for the development of the inland waterway sector in the country. The council has representation from North-Eastern states such as Meghalaya, Manipur, Mizoram, Assam, Tripura and Nagaland when deciding the course of waterway development in the country. From the plains, states with large river systems like Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar in North India are also represented.

It operates like the Maritime State Development Council (MSDC) which focuses on development of ports and coastal states.

Union Ports, Shipping, and Inland Waterways Minister Sarbananda Sonowal launched the ‘Harit Nauka’ guidelines and ‘River Cruise Tourism Roadmap, 2047’ at the event. Highlighting key goals, he said, “The roadmap had identified 30 plus additional potential routes for different cruise types, including long and short, recreational and heritage segments to attract all tourist categories.”

“An action plan and roadmap, including route development, marketing strategy, infrastructure development and navigation to effectively proceed with developing such additional river cruises is also ready,” he added.

The centre aims to develop 26 more waterways which will be fit for River Cruise tourism. Present operational strength is of eight waterways. The number of cruise circuits with night stays will be increased from 17 to 80 during the same period.Number of river cruise terminals will also be increased to 185 from presently 15. Local cruise tourism traffic on National Waterways (without night stay) will be increased from 2 lakh to 15 lakh by 2047.

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