India: A Legal Perspective On The Inland Waterways & Riverside Services Sector In India

Last Updated: 3 October 2016

Inland water transport (IWT) is an environment-friendly, economical and cost-effective mode of transportation for passengers and cargo as compared to roadways and railways. However, Indian rivers and its tributaries are yet to be exploited for the potential they offer for transportation, as also, for development of shore side services, river cruises, tourism etc. Perennial rivers that criss-cross India support a huge population which largely depends on agriculture for sustenance though these river banks are also home to religious and historical sites which draw to them millions of tourists every year. Given the beauty and heritage along the Indian rivers, the need of the hour is to facilitate better utilization of our grand waterway as well as the river banks for infrastructural development, including terminals and shore side services such as hotels, restaurants, recreational sites, etc. The government has taken various steps to increase investments in this sector, including by amendment of the legislative framework.

Inland Waterways Authority of India ("IWAI"), a statutory authority constituted under the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985, which is inter alia responsible for infrastructure development and maintenance works on national waterways, had designated 5 waterways totalling 4382 kilometres as National Waterways with a view to improve navigability in India. IWAI has been successful in attracting some private sector investment in inland water transport through Joint Venture route, one of them being the Vivada Inland Waterways Ltd which is mainly controlled from Kolkata.

The National Waterways Act, 2016 was recently enacted in order to amend the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act, 1985. The amendments have added 106 additional inland waterways as the national waterways, thereby increasing the total number of national waterways to 111 from existing five national waterways. Further, the Act of 2016 has also repealed the five statutes (dealing with five notified National Waterways) that separately dealt with the existing 5 national waterways and has included the same within the new Act. The pronouncement of additional national waterways would be of assistance in major overhaul of the movement of goods and passengers by way of rivers around the country.

Initiatives to be taken for promotion of Inland Waterways

Since many Indian cities are connected by rivers, development and promotion of river cruises connecting heritable sites is one of the ways to enhance the potential of rivers plying throughout the country. In fact, there has been a welcome development in this regard. A river cruise vessel named 'M.V. Mahabaahu' is being operated on the river Brahmaputra. Further, the Champions Yacht Club has recently introduced a river cruise named 'Tanvi' on the river Krishna with a view to boost the cruise tourism industry.

However, the inland waterway vessels are presently run on diesel. In an attempt to ensure the usage of environment friendly and cost effective fuel, there is widespread and urgent need to adopt compressed natural gas (CNG) as a fuel for inland waterway vessels. However, prior to suggesting any shift in the fuel, it would be necessary to set up adequate CNG pump stations in areas where CNG use for vehicles is not in vogue. While setting up CNG pump stations, the financial viability of such pump stations would also have to be considered.

Efforts are also underway to provide a secure environment for the terminals and cruises, with a view to provide safe and secure movement of tourists, check illegal transportation of goods, etc. along the riverbanks which is matter of concern for respective state governments. For instance, Government of Bihar has notified certain river thanas / police stations on the banks of the river Ganga.

Though the beauty and heritage along the Indian rivers is unparalleled, the exploitation of the same has suffered on account of lack of planning. It is to be noted that Indian rivers are home to various temple towns and tourism and/or cruise vessels which intend to provide tourists alcoholic drinks and non vegetarian food may not find favour with the local traditions and sensitivities of these temple towns. It would thus be better if virgin stretches at select locations are earmarked for development of tourism and other shore side services, with cruise vessels that take tourists to adjoining temple towns or other localities of tourist interest. Selection of such new river side areas for development would provide the planners sufficient room for planned development.

The development of facilities like restaurants, hotels along riverside requires certain short, medium and long term planning in order to ensure adequate sewerage, water, power, terminal, refuelling, waste and effluent treatment and other services and amenities such that the developments are environmentally friendly yet economically viable. Planning needs to include environment-friendly measures such sewage and effluent treatment plant, waste treatment, storm water drains, rain water harvesting system and other waste management systems. While earmarking such areas for development, the government will have to change its approach from construction first and infrastructure later to infrastructure first and construction to follow. Any well planned development would not only be environmentally sustainable but would also attract greater investments as well as users.

It may also be noted that there are no sound guidelines or policies for environmental compliance in the development of shores, terminals, etc. or for granting approvals / clearances pursuant to fulfilment of environmental standards and stipulations. In this regard the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change may provide for guidelines for planning waterway development projects and also ensure that such projects are attuned to environmental protection requirements. Investments in development of shore side infrastructure and services, including use of waterways for cruises and other facilities, may not find much favour with investors despite their huge potential on account of an overbearing National Green Tribunal, which has interjected even in case of setting up of temporary facilities along river banks, as seen in the case of World Culture Festival organized on the banks of Yamuna by the Art of Living Foundation, or setting up of camps for river rafting along the Ganges. It is therefore necessary for the government to address al l necessary environmental concerns and frame appropriate guidelines for exploitation of river banks and rivers for commercial purposes before beginning the process of development of such facilities with private investment. The government should also ensure that such guidelines are consistent with expectations of the green lobby, including the National Green Tribunal.

Considering all the aforesaid concerns, it can be concluded that the potential of navigable waterways and shore side and river services needs to be widened as a complementary and environmentally sustainable mode of transport, tourism and recreation. The development and regulation of waterways and river services should be critically examined and the concerned authorities should do away with all the anomalies that have obstructed the evolution and expansion of the sector. Government should lend a helping hand by providing requisite infrastructure, introducing policies to promote waterways. The government also needs to encourage the effective participation of the private sector for construction and operation of river ports, cruises and other services by earmarking virgin stretches on river banks for planned development by way of different arrangements including but not limited to Build Own Operate and Transfer, Build Own Operate, joint venture, etc.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Video
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.