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Current Affairs

Inland Vessels Bill

Date: 12 August 2021 Tags: Bills & Laws


For bringing uniform rules and regulations for governing inland waterways and navigation, the Parliament has passed a new bill.



The bill is part of a plan to boost India’s inland navigation potential especially for cargo goods to interiors.



  • India has about 15,000km of inland navigation route consisting of creeks, channels, backwaters and rivers.

  • The new bill will replace the Inland Vessels Act, 1917. A central regulatory regime will be set up to control inland waterways in India.

  • The inland Vessels Act, 1917 had limited scope and application. It was modified in 1977 and 2007 to add various features.


New features

  • A mechanically driven vessel is defined in the bill as ships, sailing vessels, container vessels, boats and ferries.

  • The vehicles will have to be registered with the respective states or UTs. A database will be created to log entry of movement.


 National waterways

  • The central government has created National Waterways of India under the National Waterways Act, 2016 to serve as transport routes.

  • Out of the 111 notified routes, 13 waterways are already operational for moving cargo as well as passenger traffic.

  • The National waterways are being developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India under the Ministry of shipping. The World Bank is providing financial assistance.

  • Waterways is considered to be more efficient and environment friendly mode of transportation. This is particularly true for cargo not having time frame.

  • The current waterway cargo movement is restricted to Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hoogly, Barak, Brahmaputra, rivers in Goa, Kerala backwaters, and Krishna-Godavari delta regions.


Important features

  • The new bill says that SOS signal sent by any vessel must be responded by another vessel nearby. Masters of the vessels failing to respond will be fined if they do not have strong reasons for not responding.

  • The qualification of workers on the vessel and the number of people that have to be carried on board will be specified by the centre.

  • The centre has the powers to decide the sewage and pollutant materials that the vessels can discharge into the river.

  • An emergency fund will also be maintained by the centre for handling emergency situation, check pollution and also improve infrastructure.