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National Waterway 4 (India)

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National Waterway 4 (India)

National Waterway 4 (NW-4)
Location Kakinada, Chennai, Puducherry
Length 1095 km
No. of terminals 15
Owner Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI)
Operator Central Inland Water Transport Corporation (CIWTC)

National Waterway 4 (NW-4) is a 1,095 kilometres (680 mi) long waterway in India. It has been declared as an Indian National Waterway and is currently under development. It connects the Indian states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and the union territory of Puducherry. The NW-4 runs along the Coromandal Coast through Kakinada, Eluru, Commanur, Buckingham Canals and also through part of Krishna and Godavari rivers in South India. It was declared a National Waterway on 24 November 2008 under the Provisions of National Waterways Bill, 2006.[1] It is being developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI),[2] and is scheduled for completion in 2013.


Map showing all the National Waterways in India

National waterways in India

In India, the national waterways are developed by the central government through the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) - the regulatory body for the Inland Waterways Transport (IWT) sector.[3] IWAI was set up by the Inland Waterways Authority of India Act in 1985 and given responsibility of development, maintenance, and regulation of national waterways in the country. It is a statutory autonomous body for regulating and developing navigation and shipping in the inland waterways. Along with IWAI, Central Inland Water Transport Corporation (CIWTC) also supports the IWT sector through transportation of cargo via inland waterways and the operation and maintenance of the vessels and waterway terminals.[4] The first national waterways established in India were the NW-1,2 & 3 (est. in mid 1980s & 1993). They have a combined length of 2,716 kilometres (1,688 mi).

Development of NW-4, 5 & 6

As early as 1993-95, IWAI commenced studies for developing an integrated canal linking Kakinada and Chennai. The Indian government initiated the process for developing three more national waterways in 2005.[5] In July 2006, T. R. Baalu, the Minister of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways announced the proposal for development of NW-4 in the Lok Sabha.[6] In addition to the three existing national waterways, the government also declared the following inland waterways as national waterways:
Lengths of Individual Stretches (NW-4)
Stretch Length in km
Kakinada canal 50
Eluru canal 139
Krishna river section 157
Godavari river section 171
Commamur canal 113
North Buckingham canal 316
South Buckingham canal 110
Marakkanam-Pondicherry section 22
Total 1095

The proposals were made into law with the passage of the [9]


The National Waterway NW-4 comprises nearly 690 kilometres (430 mi) of canal and 328 kilometres (204 mi) of river sections. In turn, the river section of the NW-4 comprises two major sections - a) "Godavari river section" and b) "Krishna river section" (after the two main rivers of the state of Andhra Pradesh). The Godavari River section stretches from Bhadrachalam to Dowleiswaram, Rajahmundry. The Krishna River section stretches from Wazirabad Nalgonda district to Prakasam Barrage, Vijayawada. The canal section of NW-4 is formed by a combination of the Kakinada canal, the Eluru canal, Commamur canal, and the Buckingham canal. The Kakinada canal runs between Kakinada and Rajahmundry for a length of 50 kilometres (31 mi). Starting from Dowleiswaram on the left bank of the river Godavari through a head sluice and lock to Kakinada (approx. 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) downstream from Kakinada Port). The canal gets its water from the Godavari through the Dowleiswaram barrage and thereafter connects Kakinada anchorage port. It connects the Godavari river section from Bhadrachalam to Rajahmundry. The Eluru canal comprises two distinct irrigation-cum – navigation canals, namely the Krishna Eluru canal of the eastern Krishna delta and the Godavari Eluru canal of western Godavari delta. It runs between Vijayawada to Vijjeswaram lock at Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton Barrage for a total distance of 139 kilometres (86 mi). The Krishna Eluru canal takes off from the river section on the left bank of Krishna river on the upstream of Prakasam barrage through a head sluice at Vijayawada and meets Godavari Eluru canal at east Tammileru lock at Eluru.The Godavari Eluru canal takes off from the River section of river Godavari at Vijjeswaram () in Rajahmundry on the upstream of Dowleiswaram anicut through a head sluice and joins Krishna Eluru canal at East Tammileru lock. The Commamur canal runs between Vijayawada Seethanagaram lock and Peddaganjam lock for a total length of 113 kilometres (70 mi) It takes off from the Krishna River section in river Krishna in Vijayawada on the right side upstream off Prakasam barrage through a head sluice at Seethanagaram and joins the Buckingham canal at Peddaganjam Lock near Ongole. The Buckingham canal is a tidal canal stretching from Peddaganjam lock to Chennai and further down south up to Marakkanam. The stretch of the canal from Peddaganjam lock to Chennai for a length of 316 kilometres (196 mi) is called "North Buckingham canal" and the canal path from Chennai to Marakkanam for a total length of 110 kilometres (68 mi) is called "South Buckingham canal". It was constructed during the 19th century along the Coromandal Coast. Marakkanam is connected to the Sea (Bay of Bengal) at Pondicherry by the Kalluvelly tank.

The lengths of the NW-4 in Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, and Puducherry are as follows:[10]
S.No State Description of Canals & Rivers Total Length
Andhra Pradesh
Kakinada canal, Eluru canal, Commamur canal, Godavari river, Krishna river and North Buckingham canal (Peddaganjam () to Andhra Pradesh – Tamil Nadu border at Tada)
895 kilometres (556 mi)
Tamil Nadu
North Buckingham canal (AP-TN border at Tada to Basin Bridge), South Buckingham canal and Kalluvelly tank
210 kilometres (130 mi)
Southern portion of Kalluvelly tank  – Pondicherry link
2 kilometres (1.2 mi)

Geographical boundaries

Boundary Description
Northern A perpendicular line drawn across the Kakinada canal to Jaganadhapuram road bridge located at Kakinada at a distance of 500 meters down stream at .
Southern Junction of East coast highway and Chinnakalwari-Kanagachettikulam road at Kanagachettikulam which is the end point of artificial canal link to Kaluvelly tank located at .
Western (River Godavari) Road bridge at Bhadrachalam across Godavari river at .
Western (River Krishna) Road bridge at Wazirabad across Krishna river at .
Eastern (River Godavari) Dowleswaram Barrage (Sir Arthur Cotton barrage) across river Godavari at Dowleswaram, Rajahmundry at
Eastern (River Krishna) Prakasam barrage across river Krishna at Vijayawada at


Map of NW-4

The concept of National Waterways was introduced in 1982 to promote the development of inland water transport in the country. At present, out of six declared National Waterways, developmental works are being carried out on NW-1, 2, and 3 only by Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI). The first three National Waterways (NW-1, 2 & 3) are being developed for shipping and navigation by providing basic inland transport infrastructural facilities, including navigational channel with required depth and width, aids for day and night navigation, and terminals at selected locations for berthing and loading/unloading of vessels.

In NW-1 & 2, IWAI undertakes river conservatory works to provide navigational channel of 3 metres (9.8 ft), 2 metres (6.6 ft), and 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) depth in different stretches during the low water period. In NW–3, IWAI is carrying out dredging to provide a navigational depth and width of 2 metres (6.6 ft) and 32 metres (105 ft), respectively. Development works are being carried out with the objective of making all three National waterways fully operational with cargo and other inland vessels by March 2012.

For National Waterways 4 and 5, IWAI initiated the proposals for development in July 2010.[11] Techno-economic studies for establishment of National Waterways NW-4 was done by Water And Power Consultancy Services (WAPCOS), a subsidiary of Ministry of Water Resources

The completion period for NW-4 was estimated at seven years by Detailed Project Report prepared by WAPCOS, which is contrary to that of 2002 estimates which indicated five years as completion period. 1707 Hectares of land are required for NW-4 construction; 300 Ha, 1380 Ha, and 27 Ha land has to be acquired in the states of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Puducherry respectively.

Participation of Government Agencies, Public & Private Sector Entreprises in IWT / NW development
Vessels / Terminals Construction, Operation & Maintenance Government Agencies Public Sector Enterprises Private Sector Enterprises
Constructing of waterway
CIWTC in Sunderbans
Maintenance of Waterway
Subcontracted Dredging
Subcontracted Dredging
Navigational Support
Ports, near port areas GPS suppliers (KPT, Port of Panaji)
Vessel Manufacturing
CIWTC, Hooghly Docks, GRSE
Vessel ownership
CIWTC/KSINCL and others
Vessel maintenance/repair
CIWTC/KSINCL and others
Vessel Operation
CIWTC/KSINCL and others
Terminal construction
IWAI and State Government
Mormugao Port Trust, CIWTC
Terminal operation
Mormugao Port Trust,

IWAI - Inland Water Transport Authority; CIWTC - Central Inland Water Transport Corporation; KSINCL- Kerala State Inland Navigation Company Limited.


A. F. Ferguson was appointed by WAPCOS for conducting traffic studies for proposed waterway in 2005-06.

Current traffic

There is no significant traffic in the waterway except for movement of country boats which carry local produce. The main reason for lack of IWT movement is the absence of other infrastructure facilities and coordinated effort for improvements.

Potential traffic

NW-4 has been divided into four major cargo belts, namely Kakinada belt, Krishna belt, South Andhra Pradesh belt, and Chennai belt. Based on the survey conducted by WAPCOS, the 11 million tonnes of cargo is expected to be transported through NW-4 every year. Types of cargo include coal, rice, foodgrains, cement, fertilisers, forest products, salt, and other bulk cargo.[12] The Godavari river system flows through the Bhadrachalam forests and coal deposits. The Krishna River flows through limestone deposits and cement industries at Jaggayyapeta.

Krishna river (Wazirabad – Vijayawada)

Guntur has abundant resources of limestone which are of use in cement and steel industries. Main consumers of limestone are nearby situated cement and steel industries like ACC, Andhra Cement, Parthasarathy Cements & Industries Ltd and Gauthami Cements as well as Visakhapatnam Steel Plant.

Godavari River (Bhadrachalam - Rajahmundry )

The coal is a substantially available commodity in this stretch due to its nearness to Singareni Collieries (SCCL) mines. Coal fields are located in Kothagudem, Manuguru and Yellandu. Rice has a huge traffic potential in this downstream route up to Rajahmundry. In the upstream direction, traffic potential will be gained by transportation of forest products, wood pulp to Bhadrachalam where major paper mills like ITC Bhadrachalam and Andhra Pradesh paper mills (APPML) are located. Apart from this, many small paper mills are located in the East and West Godavari districts.

Kakinada Canal

Main cargo to be transported in downstream direction from kakinada to rajahmundry are coal, fertilizer, salt and rock Phosphate. In the upstream direction, rice bran extractions, cement clinker and fertilizers will be the main cargos for transportation.

Eluru Canal

Rice and other food grains, rice bran extractions, coal, fertilizer and other general cargo are the substantive commodities which can boost the IWT in this stretch.

Commanur Canal

The stretch from Vijayawada to Peddaganjam (Ongole) is a vital trade link connecting Kakinada belt with south A.P and Tamil Nadu. The major towns in the vicinity capable of promoting IWT are Vijayawada, Guntur and Ongole. Main traffic in the downward direction are rice and food grains. Forest products will form traffic in the upstream direction.

North Buckingham Canal

The canal can form significant traffic because of salt pans located all along the canal stretch. Rice, food grains, fertilizers, chili peppers, tobacco, fish, granite and vegetables in the downstream direction from Peddaganjam to Chennai. In the upstream direction from Chennai to Peddaganjam, the main traffic consists of fertilizers from Madras Fertilisers (MFL) plant located at Ennore and salt from Chennai.

South Buckingham Canal & Kaluvelly Tank

The canal stretch from Basin bridge up to Marakkanam can constitute significant traffic of salt and marine products because of salt pans and aquaculture shrimp farms all along the route. In the upstream direction from Pondicherry via Marakkanam to Chennai, the main traffic consists of salt, fertilizers and timber from Marakkanam, Thiruvallur, Kanchipuram, Villupuram and Pondicherry.

NW-4 as Natural Barrier

The stretch of Buckingham Canal saved thousands of lives in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu along the coromandal coast from December 26 tsunami waves. Dr. B. Ramalingeswara Rao of National Geophysical Research Institute (NGRI), Hyderabad reports that the Buckingham Canal acted as a buffer zone and regulated the tsunami waves on the coastal region over 310 kilometres (190 mi) from Pedda Ganjam to Chennai. The tsunami waves drifted away towards the existing low-lying creeks at several places.[13][14] The canal from Chennai (Marakkanam) to Durga Raya Patnam near Nellore and then to Pedda Ganjam, all along the east coast was filled with tsunami water, which overflowed at a few places and receded back to sea within 10–15 min. This saved the lives of several fishermen, especially in coastal AP and parts of Chennai city.


The cost for developing a waterway in India is approximately INR 0.5 Crore per km, whereas developing a railway or roadway costs around INR 4-6 crore per km.[15] As per estimates drawn by consultants M/s RITES, the project will cost INR 542 crore (as per 2002 prices) and facilitate movement of 100 tonne vessels in the irrigation canal portion and 350 tonne in the rivers and Buckingham canal portion. The developmental works for NW-4 involve the widening of canal, dredging, excavation, bank protection, construction and repair of locks, modification of bridges and roads, navigational aids, and setting up of IWT terminals.

The cost estimated by WAPCOS is around INR 906 crore

In the Tenth Five-Year Plan, Planning Commission has increased the budgetary provision for the development of inland water transport infrastructure to INR 636.73 crores, against INR 150.00 crores in the Ninth Five-Year Plan.[16]

For the year 2009-2010, the government has released the following funds through Ministry of Shipping for development of IWT.[17]

  1. INR 62.68 Crores as a grant to IWAI for development and maintenance of National Waterways (NW 1,2,3,4 & 5).And also for undertaking projects related to IWT promotion, training, IT activities etc.
  2. INR 1 Crore has been released for Technical Studies and R&D activities.
  3. INR 1 Crore has been released for Inland Vessel Building Subsidy Scheme.
  4. INR 1 Crore has been released for Central Sector Schemes for IWT Development in North Eastern Region.

Delay in the project

Common factors attributable for delay in development of IWT are lack of infrastructure, absence of fixed scheduled services, poor navigational aids, lack of connectivity, longer river distances, multiple handling, and limited flow of private investments. The Eleventh Five-Year Plan envisaged development of six national inland waterways. Although the government demarcated five such National Waterways, the shipping ministry is unable to start the work on developing two of them (NW-4 & NW-5), as Planning Commission has not approved the development plans until now. Ministry of Shipping awaits the sum of INR 500 Crores that it needs to carry out the development works. As a result of the delay in getting the Planning Commission approval and the funds, the ministry has suspended the plans for developing the sixth national inland waterway.[18]

See also


  1. ^ Ministry of Shipping (Government of India). "National waterways Declaration". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  2. ^ Press Information Bureau ,Government of India (2 August 2010). "Development Authority for Inland Waterways in India". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  3. ^ Business.Gov.In ,Government of India. "National Level Infrastructure, Maritime Transport". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Press Information Bureau ,Government of India (15 March 2007). "Development Authority for Inland Waterways in India". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  5. ^ Financial Express (14 July 2005). "Three new national waterways on anvil". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  6. ^ Press Information Bureau, Govt of India (26 July 2006). "Development of National Waterways". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  7. ^ Indian Express (31 August 2007). "House clears Inland Vessels Bill". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  8. ^ Outlook India (23 October 2008). "Lok Sabha passes National Waterways bills". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  9. ^ Press Information Bureau ,Government of India (15 March 2007). "National Waterways bills". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  10. ^ Public Information Bureau, Government of India (27 July 2010). "National Waterways". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  11. ^ Public Information Bureau, Government of India (27 July 2010). "Development of National Waterways". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  12. ^ WAPCOS, Ministry of Water Resources. "Detailed Project Report by WAPCOS". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  13. ^ Indian Academy of Science (10 July 2005). "CURRENT SCIENCE, VOL. 89, NO. 1". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  14. ^ The Hindu (11 August 2005). "Buckingham canal buffered tsunami fury". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  15. ^ Mr K. Shankar Narayanan, chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Business Line (4 April 2004). "Buckingham canal buffered tsunami fury". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  16. ^ Financial Express (19 March 2007). "Budgetary provision for National waterways". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  17. ^ Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. "Ministry of Shipping Budget for the year 2009-2010". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
  18. ^ Financial Express (30 April 2010). "Inland waterway projects hang fire as Plan panel delays nod". Retrieved 5 August 2010. 
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