IIT Madras developing technology for waterways, ports


The IIT Madras National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways & Coasts (NTCPWC) recently established at the institute as the technological arm of the Union shipping ministry, is doing its best to boost the development of indigenous technology and expertise in India’s port and maritime sector.

The unit will be focusing on a host of areas, including autonomous platforms for navigational and water-quality monitoring, night-time navigation in inland waterways, new indigenous dredging technologies for small ports and inland waterways and new concepts in breakwaters (structures that prevent waves from entering the harbour), among others.

“NTCPWC has a two-pronged approach: we want to consolidate to provide solutions to fulfil the technological requirements of the sector. We also want to continue as the leading solution provider in the Indian context,” said K Murali, professor, department of ocean engineering, IIT Madras, and nodal officer, NTCPWC.

Since 2015, several collaborations between IIT Madras and the Union shipping ministry led to the establishment of NTCPWC in February 2018 at a cost of about Rs 70 crore The centre is expected to generate its own revenues at the end of three years.

The NTCPWC is advised by a project monitoring committee within IIT Madras and an oversight committee is appointed by the shipping ministry. The areas which NTCPWC plans to indigenise are port and harbour engineering, port structures and waterway terminals, port and inland navigation, dredging, simulation in physical and computer models and baseline and continuous monitoring of shipping channels and inland waterways.

At present, the shipping ministry appoints international consultants to provide consultancy on various projects. IIT Madras had begun to replace some of these overseas consultants / technology providers. With the formation of NTCPWC, this process will accelerate. “Understanding of local waters will be better with indigenous experts as the waves and waters differ from country to country.

This fact of understanding local waters has given us an edge,” said Murali. The NTCPWC will also play a significant role on the human resources front by training manpower who can study the specific project and take appropriate decisions.