India-Japan summit every year
GS 2 India & Foreign Relations
- Recently, Prime Ministers Fumio Kishida of Japan and Narendra Modi of India met at the Annual India-Japan Summit.
Key Highlights of the Visit
- The two prime ministers primarily focused on significantly enhancing cooperation in the fields of clean energy, semiconductors, and co-development of military hardware, in addition to exploring ways to address regional security challenges in light of China’s growing assertiveness.
- Both nations pledged to work together to address pressing global issues during India’s G20 presidency and Japan’s G7 chairmanship.
- Indo-Japan Year of Tourism:
- The year 2023 has been designated as the India-Japan tourism year.
- The Japanese prime minister extended an official invitation to the Indian prime minister to attend the G7 summit in Hiroshima, which was accepted.
- Free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) policy:
- The Japanese prime minister unveiled his plan for a “free and open Indo-Pacific” with a particular emphasis on India’s growing importance in the region.
- Japan announced $75 billion to support its policy of a free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP). Japan would mobilise more than $75 billion in public and private infrastructure funds in the Indo-Pacific region by 2030 and grow alongside other nations. The fundamental principles of the FOIP, such as defending freedom and the rule of law and valuing diversity, inclusiveness, and transparency, remained applicable in the current climate.
- They announced the “new” four FOIP pillars.
- The principles for peace and rules for prosperity: It includes respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity, as well as opposition to the unilateral use of force to alter the status quo.
- Addressing challenges in an Indo-Pacific way: This pillar emphasises cooperation to confront growing threats to global commons, such as climate and the environment, global health, and cyberspace, in addition to the primary challenge of defending peace. Japan decided to provide 50 million US dollars in emergency food aid to vulnerable countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, in addition to providing corn seeds and other assistance to vulnerable farmers in Ukraine.
- Multi-layered connectivity:It is the foundation of FOIP’s cooperation. It is considered essential for economic expansion. He stated that Japan will concentrate on three regions. Southeast Asia is the first region. He noted the similarities between the ASEAN Outlook for the Indo-Pacific and Japan’s FOIP. Kishida confirmed that Japan will contribute an additional $100 million to the Japan-ASEAN Integration Fund. The second region is South Asia, with Northeast India receiving special attention. He stated that Japan will promote the Bay of Bengal-Northeast India industrial value chain concept in collaboration with India and Bangladesh in an effort to foster regional development. The third region is the Pacific Islands, which face numerous challenges. Japan will continue to support the countries in this region, he stated.
- Extending efforts for security and safe use of the sea to the air: The objective is to rid the oceans of growing geopolitical dangers. In this regard, Japan emphasises that states should clarify their claims in accordance with international law, without the use of force or coercion, and through peaceful means. Japan pledged assistance to strengthen the maritime law enforcement capabilities of each country through the development of human resources, the strengthening of cooperation between coast guard agencies, and joint training with other coast guards.
- Loan for Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail:
- A note was exchanged between the two parties on the sidelines of the talks regarding the provision of the fourth tranche of a Japanese loan of up to 300 billion yen (approximately Rs 18,000 crore) for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high-speed rail.
- On Ukraine’s conflict:
- Japan mentioned the Ukraine conflict seven times in its condemnation of Russia’s actions in Ukraine, stating that Moscow’s aggression had “compelled” the world to face the most fundamental challenge of defending peace.
India- Japan Relations
- Following a lull caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, ties between India and Japan have been strengthened over the past year.
- Since the visit of Indian monk Bodhisena in 752 A.D., spiritual affinity and strong cultural and civilizational ties have been the foundation of India and Japan’s friendship.
- In modern times, Swami Vivekananda, Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore, JRD Tata, Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, and Judge Radha Binod Pal were prominent Indians with ties to Japan.
- In 1952, India and Japan established diplomatic ties. In 2022, Japan and India will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations.
- Several high-level exchanges occurred in the first decade after diplomatic ties were established, including the visit of the Japanese prime minister to India in 1957.
- Japan was one of the few nations to rescue India from its balance of payments crisis in 1991.
- The Act East Forum, which was founded in 2017, aims to serve as a platform for India-Japan collaboration in accordance with India’s “Act East Policy” and Japan’s “Free and Open Indo-Pacific Vision.”
- Economic and Commercial relations:
- Given the complementarities between the two Asian economies, the economic relations between India and Japan have a significant growth potential.
- Japan’s interest in India is growing for a variety of reasons, such as India’s large and expanding market and its resources, particularly its human resources.
- The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) between India and Japan entered into force in August 2011.
- It is the most comprehensive agreement of its kind signed by India, covering not only trade in goods but also services, movement of natural persons, investments, intellectual property rights, customs procedures, and other trade-related issues.
- Since 1958, Japan has provided India with bilateral loan and grant assistance and is India’s largest bilateral donor.
- Japan’s Official Development Assistance (ODA) supports India’s efforts to accelerate economic development, particularly in priority areas such as power, transportation, environmental projects, and projects addressing basic human needs. The Western Dedicated Freight Corridor (DFC), the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor with eight new industrial townships, the Chennai-Bengaluru Industrial Corridor (CBIC)
- During FY 2021-22, bilateral trade between Japan and India totaled US$ 20.57 billion. Japan’s exports to India accounted for 2.35 percent of India’s total imports, while India’s exports to Japan accounted for 1.46 percent of India’s total exports.
- Defense Relations:
- Over the years, the India-Japan Defense and Security Partnership has evolved and become an integral pillar of bilateral relations.
- India and Japan conduct a series of bilateral military exercises, including JIMEX, SHINYUU Maitri, and Dharma Guardian. Together with the United States, both nations participate in the Malabar exercise.
- There are also numerous security and defence dialogue frameworks between Japan and India, such as the “2+2” meeting.
- Quad alliance:
- India and Japan have expanded bilateral cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region as well as cooperation within the Quad group.
- Quad is an informal strategic dialogue between India, the United States, Japan, and Australia with the goal of promoting and ensuring a “free, open, and prosperous” Indo-Pacific region.
- Indian Diaspora:
- In recent years, the composition of the Indian community has changed due to the arrival of a large number of professionals, including IT specialists and engineers.
- working for Indian and Japanese firms.
- Science & Technology:
- During PM Modi’s October 2018 visit to Japan, the India-Japan Digital Partnership (IJDP) was launched, expanding existing areas of cooperation and introducing new initiatives within the scope of S&T/ICT cooperation.
- India and Japan are collaborating on a lunar polar exploration (LUPEX) mission with the goal of sending a lander and rover to the South Pole of the Moon around 2024.
- The underdeveloped trade relations when compared to India’s trade relations with China. And, CEPA’s limited success.
- India and Japan have opposing interests, such as Japan’s opposition to India’s withdrawal from the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.
- Both nations have hegemonic and border issues with China. Consequently, their policy stance is dependent on China rather than expanding comprehensively.
- Pending Ahmedabad-Mumbai Bullet Train Project.
- To maintain stronger ties between India and Japan, it is necessary to engage in additional domains, such as the establishment of a secure and dependable 5G network and submarine cables. In addition, on the economic front, both nations can work to improve industrial competitiveness, which would also benefit the supply chain network.
- Japan should explore additional ways to accept skilled workers from India and utilise the expertise of Indian IT professionals to accelerate the country’s digitalization process. India and Japan must collaborate on improving their space technology and exchange, as well as their work in electromagnetic fields.
- Both nations can increase their cooperation in India’s Northeast region and develop more connectivity projects, which would also contribute to the improvement of relations with Southeast Asian nations.
Waste to Energy Facilities
GS 2 Governance
- The government of Kerala recently announced the first waste-to-energy project in Kozhikode.
- Waste-to-energy projects generate electricity from non-recyclable dry waste. They increase electricity generation capacity and reduce the burden of solid waste management (SWM).
- Solid Waste Profile :
- Solid waste in India consists of 55 to 60 percent biodegradable organic waste, 25 to 30 percent non-biodegradable dry waste, and approximately 15 percent silt, stones, and drain waste.
- Organic waste that decomposes can be converted into organic compost or biogas
- Only 2 to 3 percent of non-biodegradable dry waste is recyclable, including hard plastics, metals, and electronic waste. The remainder consists of non-recyclable low-grade plastic, rags, and fabric. This portion of non-recyclable dry waste poses the greatest challenge to the current SWM system. This fraction is utilised by waste-to-energy plants to generate electricity. The waste is burned to produce heat that is then converted into electricity.
Challenges of Waste-to-Energy Plants:
- There are approximately 100 waste-to-energy projects in the United States, but only a handful are operational due to the following obstacles:
- low calorific value:
- The calorific value of mixed Indian garbage is approximately 1,500 kcal/kg, which is insufficient for energy production. (The calorific value of coal is approximately 8,000 kcal/kg.)
- Due to the high moisture content of biodegradable waste, it cannot be used to generate electricity.
- Improper Segregation:The calorific value of separated and dried non-recyclable dry waste is between 2,800 and 3,000 kcal/kg, which is sufficient to generate electricity. However, improper segregation has a negative effect on the calorific value due to moisture infiltration.
- High costs of energy production: The cost of generating electricity from waste is approximately?7-8/unit, whereas the cost of purchasing electricity from coal, hydroelectric, and solar power plants by state electricity boards is approximately?3-4/unit.
- Initiatives For Solid Waste Management:
- Waste to Wealth Portal:The Waste to Wealth Mission is one of the Prime Minister’s Science, Technology, and Innovation Advisory Council’s nine scientific missions (PMSTIAC).
- It seeks to identify, develop, and implement technologies for waste treatment that generate energy, recycle materials, and extract valuable resources.
- Plastic Waste Management (PWM) Rules, 2016:It mandates the generators of plastic waste to take steps to minimise generation of plastic waste, prevent littering of plastic waste, and ensure segregated storage of waste at source among other measures.
- ‘My Home-My Neighborhood’ (Ghar Bi Saaf-Pados Bhi Saaf) campaign: The campaign, launched by the Ministry of Urban Affairs, focuses on six components:
- Segregation of waste at the source
- Composting of wet waste within the premises/neighborhood/area
- Recycling of dry waste
- Freeing the neighbourhood from open defecation and urination
- Motivating the residents of the neighbourhood to refrain from dumping trash in public spaces
- Adopting a nearby park or open area for waste collection and sorting.
- Solid Waste Management Rules 2016: In addition to municipal areas, the waste management regulations apply to urban agglomerations, census towns, notified industrial townships, etc. They also prioritise waste separation at the source.
- Way Forward :
- A comprehensive waste management policy is required that emphasises proper segregation and promotes investment in private capacities and research.
The Right to Health Bill in Rajasthan
GS 2 Governance
- Rajasthan is the first state to pass the Right to Health Bill in its Assembly.
Key Features of the Bill
- The bill grants state residents the right to health and access to healthcare. This includes free health care services at any clinical facility for all state residents.
- The bill imposes certain responsibilities on the state government in order to protect the right to health and preserve public health.
- State- and district-level Health Authorities will be established. These organisations will formulate, implement, monitor, and develop mechanisms for the provision of quality healthcare and the administration of public health emergencies.
Need for the Bill in Rajasthan
- Share in Population: Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, and Rajasthan make up approximately 47% of India’s population; they are more rural and socioeconomically backward than the rest of the nation.
- The National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) focuses heavily on these states due to their relatively high fertility and mortality rates.
- Post COVID:The COVID pandemic has revealed the incompetence of the health care system and the deficiency of fundamental health services.
- Simple functions of health care, such as testing, tracing contacts, and even modifying the behaviour of citizens, required the intervention and undivided attention of the district administration.
- Even non-COVID patients were denied treatment during the pandemic, and they were unable to provide adequate care to all COVID patients.
- Demand for Right to Health:It’s also been nearly a decade since various civil organisations have been demanding and persuading different governments to propose laws that make health a public right.
- Political Will:This issue was highlighted and political commitment was evident only in the election platforms of a few political parties. However, they were executed because they were never in a position of power or influence over government decisions.
Rule 357 of the Lok Sabha’s Rules of Business
GS 2 Polity and Governance
- The Congress leader recently cited Rule 357 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Lok Sabha.
Rules and Conduct of Lok Sabha
- The procedure and conduct of business in Parliament are governed by rules enacted pursuant to Article 118 of the Constitution and, with respect to certain financial business, by a law enacted pursuant to Article 119. (Parliament has not yet passed a law of this nature pursuant to Article 119.)
- The Constituent Assembly (Legislative) Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business entered into force immediately prior to the enactment of the Constitution of India.
- The Rules were modified and adopted by the Speaker of the Lok Sabha in accordance with article 118(2) of the Constitution.
- The Speaker periodically amends these Rules based on the advice of the Rules Committee of the House.
What is Rule 357?
- Personal explanation: It states, “A member may, with the permission of the Speaker, provide a personal explanation even if there is no question before the House; however, no debatable matter may be raised, and no debate shall ensue.
GS 2 Health GS 3 Science & Technology
- Recently, XBB.1.16 was found to be the variant behind India’s new COVID spike.
- The World Health Organization is currently monitoring two recombinant lineages of SARS-CoV-2: XBB, a recombinant of Omicron sublineages BA.2.10.1 and BA.2.75, and XBF, a recombinant of Omicron sublineages BA.5.2.3 and BA.2.75.3.
- Based on preliminary data, there is no indication that infections caused by the XBB.1.16 lineage differ in clinical severity from those caused by other Omicron lineages.
- It is however more susceptible to reinfection than other circulating Omicron lineages.
Why are viruses Prone to Mutation?
- Most of the viruses are made up of single strands or RNA. due to the lack of complementary pairing in the strands and RNA being more unstable than DNA leads to higher chances of mutation among viruses.
- Variant Under Monitoring (VUM):It is defined as a SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes that are hypothesised to affect virus characteristics and exhibits a growth advantage in comparison to other circulating variants (e.g. growth advantage which can occur globally or in only one WHO region). Uncertainty regarding the phenotypic effects of these variants necessitates increased monitoring and reevaluation.
- Variant of Interest (VOI) : A SARS-CoV-2 variant with genetic changes predicted or known to affect virus characteristics such as transmissibility, virulence, antibody evasion, susceptibility to therapeutics, and detectability;
- VOI are identified to have a growth advantage over other circulating variants in more than one WHO region with increasing relative prevalence alongside increasing number of cases over time, or other apparent epidemiological impacts to suggest an emerging risk to g.
- Variant of Concern (VOC) : A SARS-CoV-2 variant that meets the definition of a VOI (see above) and, based on a risk assessment conducted by WHO TAG-VE and associated with a moderate or high level of confidence, meets at least one of the following criteria when compared to other variants:
- Detrimental change in the severity of clinical disease; OR
- Change in COVID-19 epidemiology resulting in substantial impact on the capacity of health systems to provide care for patients with COVID-19 or other illnesses, necessitating substantial public health interventions; OR
- Substantial decline in the efficacy of available vaccines in preventing severe disease.
GS 3 Science & Technology
- According to a recent study conducted by astronomers from the University of California, aliens may hide on distant exoplanets in “terminator zones” where the temperature is neither too hot nor too cold.
An extrasolar planet or exoplanet is a planet that exists outside the Solar System.
What are terminator zones?
- Numerous exoplanets outside of our solar system are tidally locked, meaning that one side always faces the star around which they orbit, while the other side is permanently in darkness.
- According to astronomers’ research, there is a band surrounding these planets in which liquid water, the key ingredient for life, may be present. This band is referred to as the “terminator or twilight zone” because it serves as the dividing line between the day and night sides of the exoplanet.
- The anti-submarine vessel INS Androth was recently launched in Kolkata.
- INS Androth is the second in a series of eight Anti-Submarine Warfare Shallow Water Craft (ASW SWC) built by Garden Reach Shipbuilders and Engineers in Kolkata.
- It takes its name from the largest and longest island in the Lakshadweep archipelago.
- Androth’s primary role is to conduct anti-submarine operations in coastal waters.
- Additionally, the ship carries lightweight torpedoes, ASW rockets and mines, a close-in weapon system (with a 30-millimeter gun) and 16.7-millimeter stabilised remote-controlled guns. The Androth and its companion vessels will be outfitted with hull-mounted sonar and a low-frequency, depth-variable sonar.
Navy’s indigenisation efforts :
- Indian Navy Indigenisation Plan 2015-2030:
- The Navy issued the Indian Navy Indigenisation Plan (INIP) 2015-2030 to allow for the development of indigenous equipment and systems.
- To date, the Navy has indigenized approximately 3,400 items under the INIP, including more than 2,000 machinery and electrical spares, more than 1,000 aviation spares, and 250 weapon spares.
- Naval Innovation and Indigenisation Organisation (NIIO):
- It provides academia and industry with an interface to the Indian Navy’s capability development apparatus.
- Navy personnel have filed 36 Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) applications over the past two years.
- Since the establishment of NIIO, over two applications for intellectual property rights are filed each month, and the transfer of technology to twelve micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) has already begun.
Significance of Indigenisation :
- Reducing Fiscal Deficit:India is the world’s second largest importer of arms (after Saudi Arabia).
- A greater reliance on imports increases the fiscal deficit.
- Despite having the fifth largest defence budget in the world, India imports sixty percent of its weapon systems.
- India has the ability to export its indigenous defence technology and equipment to its neighbours.
- Security Imperative:Indigenous participation in the military is crucial to national security It preserves technological expertise and promotes innovation and spin-off technologies.
- Employment generation:Employment opportunities will be generated as a result of satellite industries spawned by the production of military equipment.
- According to government estimates, a 20-25% reduction in defense-related imports could directly generate 100,000 to 120,000 additional highly skilled jobs in India.
- Strategic Capability: A defence industry that is self-sufficient and self-reliant will place India among the top global powers.
Agriculture & groundwater depletion
GS 3 Agriculture
- The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources has just released a report titled “Groundwater: A Valuable but Depleting Resource.”
Report Highlights & committee suggestions
- Issue of excessive exploitation of groundwater & free electricity:
- States such as Punjab, Haryana, Telangana, and Tamil Nadu provide completely free electricity, while other states collect token fees.
- Noting that widespread cultivation of water-intensive paddy and sugarcane crops, which are “heavily incentivized,” is the primary cause of excessive groundwater exploitation, a Parliamentary Standing Committee has recommended that the use of electric pumps be further discouraged.
- Suggested measure:
- The committee has proposed implementing measures such as prepaid power cards and limiting power supply to a few hours per day.
- The committee has also requested that the government develop “integrated measures” to reduce agriculture’s dependence on groundwater.
- Concerned ministries:
- The committee has recommended that the Department of Water Resources, River Development, and Ganga Rejuvenation under the Jal Shakti Ministry take the initiative by urging the Power Ministry, Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, and state governments to implement the suggested measures.
- Issue with restricting electricity:
- Electricity is a concurrent subject, and pursuant to the 2003 Electricity Act, SERCs determine the electricity tariff for retail supply of electricity to end consumers.
- Consequently, both the Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation and the Department of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare “have expressed inability to convince states to reduce/cease subsidies for power given in agriculture.
- Water productivity:
- According to the committee, the emphasis must shift from “land productivity” to “water productivity.”
Issue of groundwater depletion due to agriculture
- India is the second-largest producer of wheat and rice in the world and is home to over 600 million farmers.
- Due to an increased reliance on irrigation wells, Indian farmers have been able to expand production into the predominantly dry winter and summer seasons since the 1960s, resulting in impressive gains in food production.
- Due to severe groundwater depletion, the cropping intensity or amount of land planted during the winter season may decrease by as much as 20% by 2025.
- The nation that produces 10% of the world’s crops is currently the largest consumer of groundwater on the planet.
- India’s aquifers are being depleted at an alarming rate.
- State-wise data:
- Extraction of groundwater for irrigation purposes is prevalent in northern states, particularly Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan, which extract 97%, 90%, and 86% of groundwater for this purpose, respectively.
- Other states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Uttar Pradesh are also significant users of groundwater for agricultural purposes, as they extract approximately 89%, 92%, and 90% of their total groundwater, respectively.
- Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana:
- Punjab has implemented a programme that reimburses farmers for reduced electricity consumption.
- Separate components of agriculture and non-agriculture feeders have been created under the Deendayal Upadhyay Gram Jyoti Yojana of the Ministry of Power to facilitate judicious rostering of supply to agriculture and non-agriculture consumers in rural areas.
- National Water Policy, 2012
- It has placed an emphasis on periodic scientific assessments of groundwater resources.
- Atal Bhujal Yojana:
- The scheme prioritises community participation and demand-side intervention for sustainable groundwater management in identified water-stressed regions.
- Jal Jeevan Mission:
- Provisions for source recharging, such as dedicated bore well recharge structures, rain water recharge, revitalization of existing water bodies, etc., have been made.
- Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana:
- It aims to improve physical access to water on farms and to increase the cultivable area under assured irrigation, as well as to improve on-farm water use efficiency and introduce sustainable water conservation practises, among other things.
- Per Drop More Crop:
- It focuses primarily on water use efficiency at the farm level via micro irrigation (drip and sprinkler irrigation system).
- Rejuvenation of Dry Ponds, puddles and wells:
- Since water is a state responsibility, the State Governments are responsible for revitalising water bodies, including the formulation of an action plan for revitalising dry ponds, puddles, and wells within their jurisdiction.
- National Aquifer Mapping and Management program (NAQUIM):
- It is being implemented by the Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) as part of Ground Water Management and Regulation (GWM&R) Scheme, a central sector scheme.
Suggestions & way ahead
- Large corporations’ exploitation and sale of groundwater should be continuously monitored.
- Rainwater harvesting:
- Both the federal and state governments must take continuous measures to increase recharge by storing rainwater in any way possible.
- Every household must be required to install a rainwater harvesting system, especially in large cities where groundwater levels have been alarmingly declining.
- MSP fixing considering groundwater resource:
- Taking into account the groundwater balance, MSPs for crops should be set in accordance with their water consumption; higher prices for crops that require less water and vice versa.
- Micro-irrigation (drip and sprinkler), which can save approximately 50 percent of water in the cultivation of various crops, should be encouraged in over-exploited blocks to reduce groundwater extraction.
- People from all walks of life must be educated on water literacy and the perilous effects of rapidly declining groundwater.
MIV-2030, the Maritime India Vision
GS 3 Growth & Development
- The government intends to increase the share of inland water transport to 5% by 2030.
- The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has recently published a plan to increase the proportion of inland transport through the ” Maritime India Vision (MIV)-2030.”
- The vision includes 150 initiatives spanning ten themes, including port infrastructure, logistics efficiency, technology, policy framework, shipbuilding, coastal shipping, inland waterways, cruise tourism, marine ecosystem, and maritime security.
There is a need to promote IWT as it has lower operating costs, less fuel consumption, is less polluting, and is more environmentally friendly than other modes of transportation.
Maritime sector of India
- The country’s maritime sector plays a crucial role in its overall trade and growth, with 95% of its trade volume and 65% of its trade value conducted via maritime transport.
- Two Indian ports, JNPT and Mundra, are among the top 40 container ports in the world, and India ranks second globally in ship recycling and twenty-first in shipbuilding.
- The modal share of cargo in the country has increased from 0.5% to 2%, and cargo volumes have grown by 19% annually over the past five years.
- Inland Water Transport is the most cost-effective mode of transportation, especially for bulk cargo such as coal, iron ore, cement, food grains, and fertiliser.
Initiatives for growth of traffic on National Waterways
- Fairway development works:
- Fairway development on NW-1 will ensure Least Available Depth (LAD) of 3.0 metres between Haldia and Barh, 2.5 metres between Barh and Ghazipur, and 2.2 metres between Ghazipur and Varanasi.
- These are advancing as part of the Jal Marg Vikas Project (JMVP), which was undertaken by IWAI with technical and financial assistance from the World Bank.
- Development of New National Waterways:
- Through techno-economic feasibility studies, IWAI has identified 25 new NWs for undertaking technical interventions to make the waterways navigable for transportation purposes.
- Once completed, these new waterways will offer an alternative mode of transportation in their respective regions.
- Ro-Ro/Ro-Pax Service Commenced in Various National Waterways:
- The operation of Ro-Ro and Ro-Pax vessels in Neamati and Kamalabari (Majuli), Guwahati and North Guwahati, in addition to Wellesdon Island and Bolghaty.
- Revision of Levy & Collection of Fees:
- The Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways has considered waiving waterway user fees for an initial three-year period.
- Digital Solutions for Ease-of-Doing Business:
- The CAR-D (Cargo Data) Portal is a web portal for the collection & compilation, analysis & dissemination of all cargo and cruise movement data of National Waterways to stakeholders.
Key challenges of maritime sector in India:
- Inadequate infrastructure: India’s maritime infrastructure, including its ports and inland waterways, is inadequate and requires substantial investment and development despite the country’s extensive coastline and extensive network of waterways.
- Poor connectivity: The lack of connectivity between ports, as well as ports and hinterland, leads to inefficiencies and increased costs.
- Regulatory hurdles: The maritime sector in India is subject to complex and fragmented regulations, which can make it challenging for businesses to operate efficiently.
- Skill gaps: There is a shortage of skilled manpower in the maritime sector, including seafarers, engineers, and other professionals.
- Environmental concerns: The maritime sector can have a significant impact on the environment, and there are concerns around issues such as oil spills, pollution, and the impact of climate change.
- Security challenges: The maritime sector is also vulnerable to security threats such as piracy and terrorism.
- With the development work under Jal Marg Vikas Project-II (Arth Ganga), which is based on the principles of the sustainable development model to stimulate economic activities, National Waterways No. 1 maritime transportation will receive a significant boost (River Ganga).
- Government should also work on defining initiatives, fostering innovation, developing a time-bound action plan, benchmarking, addressing capability building and human resources, and brainstorming ways to implement “Waste to Wealth.”
- The proposed vision will significantly contribute to brownfield capacity expansion, the development of world-class Mega Ports, the creation of a trans-shipment hub in southern India, and infrastructure modernization, in addition to addressing the marine ecosystem and maritime security.