RIS is a combination of tracking and meteorological equipment with specialized software designed to optimize traffic and transport processes in inland navigation. The system enables swift electronic data transfer between mobile vessels and shore (base stations) through advance and real-time exchange of information so as to ensure navigation safety in inland waterways. It also provides virtual navigational aids to guide the vessel during navigation.
Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has taken up installation of RIS initially in National Waterway-1 (NW-1) on river Ganga, in three phases, viz. Haldia-Farakka, Farakka-Patna, and Patna-Varanasi.
All the vessels plying on National Waterways (NWs) need to be made compatible for using RIS. As RIS ensures safety of vessels in navigation, as per the Inland Vessel Act, it will be the responsibility of the states to direct all the vessels to be equipped with RIS compatible equipment.
Out of the existing five National Waterways, NW-1, 2 and 3 have been developed with targeted depth, navigational aids and terminal facilities with storage and mechanized handling facilities. These NWs have been made operational and vessels are plying on them. “Jal Marg Vikas” project for capacity augmentation of NW-1 between Haldia and Allahabad (1620 km), has been initiated with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs. 4200 crores. The project, inter-alia envisages three multi-modal terminals with rail and road connectivity at Varanasi, Sahebganj and Haldia.
NW- 4 and 5 are yet to be made operational for which various studies/ developmental works are underway. Dredging of fairway and construction of temporary terminals has recently started in NW-5. In view of the importance of the inland water transport and its potential to be a supplementary mode of transport to rail and road networks, the Government has launched an ambitious plan of developing 106 more inland waterways identified in 24 States, for which a National Waterways Act, 2016 has been passed by the Parliament.