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E-Commerce cargo movement sets course for Ganga as IWAI ink MoU with Amazon

By TIOL News Service

NEW DELHI, NOV 23, 2023: A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed between Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) and Amazon Seller Services Private Limited (Amazon) for promoting cargo movement and transportation of customer shipments & products via inland waterways using river Ganga (National Waterway 1).

The ceremony was done in presence of the Union Minister of Ports, Shipping & Waterways (MoPSW) and Ayush, Sarbananda Sonowal along with Secretary of MoPSW, T. K. Ramachandran and Chairman of IWAI, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya among other senior officials.

The collaboration between IWAI and Amazon marks a significant stride in advancing the transportation of e-commerce cargo along our Inland Waterways. This partnership seeks to harness the efficiency and sustainability of water transport to optimize logistics, diminish environmental footprints, and promote economic development. According to a World Bank Report, rail and road transport consume 18.5% and 91.6% more fuel than water transport, making it the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation.

Speaking on the occasion, Sonowal said, "This marks another important leaf in the growth story of India's waterways. Under the dynamic leadership of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi ji, the waterways have always been given special attention to enable it to become a wider and popular form of transportation. The Government is working tirelessly towards realisation of this vision of Modi ji to enable the waterways to become the rejuvenated conduit of growth as India moves ahead to become an Atmanirbhar Bharat. This partnership would be an important step towards enhancing the movement of e-Commerce cargo through our Inland Waterways. The aim of this partnership is to leverage the efficiency and sustainability of water transport to streamline logistics, reduce environmental impact and foster economic growth. With the beginning of this service, the artisans, the entrepreneurs and the traders of India's hinterland will find an opportunity to sell their products in the wider market, both nationally and internationally, reasonably, easily at an affordable cost via an efficient mode of transportation. The maiden ship with e-commerce cargo will be flagged off from Patna to Kolkata soon."

The collaboration between Amazon India and IWAI is another step towards realizing the  Prime Minister's Maritime Amrit Kaal Vision 2047 of enhancing inland waterways as an affordable and sustainable mode of transportation and promoting cargo movement and transportation of customer shipments/products through Inland Water Transport using National Waterway-1.

To accelerate water transport within the country Sagarmala has embarked upon 113 projects worth Rs. 7,030 Crores related to RoRo/RoPax and Inland Water Transport. Out of these projects 15 projects worth Rs. 1,100 Crores have been completed and 32 projects worth Rs. 3,900 crores are under implementation. 

Amazon will be able to utilize all possible modes of transport in the country, including Rail, Air, Water, and Surface, to ensure faster, cost-effective, sustainable and more reliable delivery of customer packages and provide a wider reach to its millions of sellers. This partnership will not only benefit Amazon by lowering their transportation cost but also open up new possibilities for all e-commerce companies to leverage the extensive inland waterways in India.

Upto 2023, the cargo handled by the Inland Waterways is 126 MMT and as per the Maritime India Vision 2030, launched during the Maritime India Summit 2021, Ministry aims to increase inland water transport volumes by more than 200 MMT by 2030 and to achieve a target of more than 500 MMT by 2047, as per the Amrit Kaal Vision 2047, launched by the Prime Minister of India during GLOBAL MARITIME INDIA SUMMIT 2023 on 17th October 2023 at Mumbai.

The plan also includes increasing the number of operational waterways to 23 by 2030, in which 24 waterways are already operational till date which is planned to be increased to more than 50 by 2047 as per the Vision Document.

This mode is anticipated to become regular with shipments from other e-commerce platforms as well through the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) mode. Collaboratively, IWAI and Amazon are poised to explore and implement state-of-the-art solutions, addressing the evolving needs of the e-commerce industry and contributing to a greener and more resilient logistics ecosystem.


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