In a major move aimed at promoting inland water transport, the government on Friday announced waiving waterway usage charges.
The decision is aimed at increasing the inland waterway traffic to 110 million tonne (MT) in 2022-23 from 72 MT in 2019-20.
“The ministry of shipping has decided to waive waterway usage charges with immediate effect considering the government of India’s vision to promote inland waterways as a supplementary, eco-friendly and cheaper mode of transport,” the shipping ministry said in a statement.
The charges have been waived initially for three years.
“Union minister of state for shipping (I/C) Mansukh Mandaviya said that currently only 2 per cent of total cargo traffic moves through waterways. Decision of waiving waterway charges will attract the industries to use the national waterways for their logistical needs,” the statement said.
As the mode of transport is eco-friendly and cheaper, it will not only reduce the burden on other transport modes but also promote the ease of doing business, the minister added.
Water usage charge was applicable on use of all the national waterways by vessels.
It was a hindrance in administration of traffic movement and collection of traffic data, the statement said.
Presently, the inland waterways authority of India levies waterway usage charges at a rate of 2 paise per gross registered tonnage (GRT) per kilometer for plying of inland cargo vessels and 5 paise per GRT per kilometer for plying of cruise vessels on national waterways.
The decision will benefit the economic activities and usher in development in the region, it said.
Earlier, Mandaviya had said the Centre is building a network of Inland Waterways in India, which will reduce the logistics cost for the industry.
“Varanasi to Haldia 1,400 km of inland waterways has been made functional, more than 700 vessels ply on this route now,” he had said adding that about 4,000 km of waterways is ready, including other waterways.
India has its unique advantage. Its 14 states are bestowed with 7,500 km of coastline with 14,500 km of potentially navigable waterways. In addition, 116 rivers provide 35,000 km of navigable stretches