Model Rules under the Inland Vessels Act

Model Rules under the Inland Vessels Act

New Delhi, April 18, 2013 :

An Interactive Session-Cum-Workshop on finalisation of Model Rules for inland vessels as per the provisions of the Inland Vessels Act, 1917,
was held on April 18, 2013 at India Habitat Centre, New Delhi. The Session was inaugurated by Dr. Vishwapati Trivedi, IAS, Chairman, IWAI.

Dr. Trivedi, in his inaugural address, stated that the Government have put the inland water transport (IWT) on a fast track mode and
is committed to revive the waterway mode of transport. Though the sector was neglected for a long time, there has been a substantial increase in the investment in the IWT sector in India during the past decade. This has generated momentum for the sustainable development of this mode.

The other experts, who presented their papers, included Mr. R.M. Nair, Former Member (Tech.), IWAI. He presented a paper on “An Overview on Safety and Organisational Aspects”. An expert panel comprising Mr. S.S. Pandian, Ex-Member (Tech.), Mr. S. Dandapat, Chief Engineer, IWAI, Capt. I.V. Solanki of Applied Research International, and representatives of some of the maritime states, deliberated on the draft Model Rules in detail and finalised the same.

It is expected that the draft Model Rules will lead to enactment of comprehensive iwt legislation by the State Government, for the operation of
inland vessels.

The paper, presented by Mr. R.M. Nair, Former Member (Tech.), IWAI, is given below.

OF DRAFT MODEL IV RULES; Safety and Organisational Aspects

 by Shri. R M Nair
(Former Member Technical, Inland
waterways Authority of India

Inland Water Transport (IWT) is unique as a participant of two major economic sectors – a multi-purpose water resources system and an inter-modal transportation system.  Inland water tourism is a sub sector. The IWT presents great possibilities for the economic development of  the country.

2.      The development and commercial use of inland waterways has assumed great significance in many countries. Commonly known reasons for this development are higher fuel costs, rail and road network congestion, and the large increase in the demand for dry and liquid bulk commodity movements.  The investment and operating costs of commercial inland waterway transport are significantly lower per unit of output and the capacity of waterways is usually not only large but easily and cheaply augmentable.  While inland waterways transport was traditionally the mode of choice for dry and liquid bulk or low unit value cargo transport, recent developments of higher speed inland water craft, as well as delays caused by increased rail and road congestion have resulted in significant movements on inland waterways of higher value goods, including containerized break bulk cargo in many countries.

3.     On a comparative scale waterways are found to be cheaper than rail for freight movement and the sector is much more competitive. Russian and Chinese waterways together constitute the world’s largest waterway network. USA has one of the best waterway infrastructures. Nearly 65% of total tonnage is moved on this waterway system. The success of the freight movement in the USA has been possible due to improvement in capacity and also availability of specialized barges for movement of different commodities. The availability of improved technology options for IWT has provided it with a powerful cost advantage over rail and road haul. This has been a crucial factor in the increased use of waterways for the transportation of coal, petroleum, food products, construction materials, iron ore and scrap etc. Though this is the global trend, the scenario in India in cargo movement by IWT is not very impressive.

4.  Factors which determine the selection of  mode of transport are;

Reductin in cost of transport
Reduction in Time of transport’
Safety   and

Safety encompasses Safety of Men, Safety of Ship, Safety of Cargo and Safety of Waterway and waterway structures. To ensure safety a regulatory
system is required; which include Rules and Regulations  and an efficient organization for the enforcement.

5.   Major legislation with regard to the IWT sector include;

The  IV Act.1917,  for Mechanically propelled vessels

Rules made by the state govt. under IV
Act, 1917,

Canals and Ferries Act,(Travancore, Madras and Andhra Predesh)

Rules made under the Canal and Ferries Act

Bengal Ferries Act.

North India Ferries Act.

IWAI Act, 1985.

Regulations made under the IWAI Act,1985

Rules to be made by the state govt.s  under the IV Act 1917;

6.        Kerala, UP, Bihar and Assam have witnessed major boat calamities . A number of lives are lost every year.   In the tourist resort of Thekkady on the Kerala -Tamil Nadu border, more than 40 people died in an accident that involved a state tourism corporation’s new double-decker boat. In Manihari in Bihar more than 100 people lost their lives when an over loaded ferry capsized.

7.       Total elimination of accidents is not possible, but measures could reduce the number and intensity of the accidents and related consequences, Rules need to make on two fronts. One, rules for creating quality, standard vessels. One of the major causes for these accidents is overloading of the vessels. Vessels should be constructed as per safety rules and there has to be a monitoring mechanism to effectively implement that. The second important aspect is to have competent crew. Human error should be eliminated and for this proper training and certification of the crew are required. All this calls for streamlining and strengthening of the IWT organization.

8.    Entries  24 and 30,  List-1 of the Constitution  stipulates the functions of the Central Govt. with respect to shipping and navigation and
carriage of passengers and goods by mechanically propelled vessels in national waterways.

“Entry-24.   Shipping and navigation on inland waterways declared by Parliament by law to be national waterways, as regards mechanically propelled vessels; the rule of the road on such waterways.”

“Entry-30.    Carriage of passengers and goods by railway, sea or air, or by national waterways in mechanically propelled vessels.”

9.    Entries 13 and 32 of the State List stipulates the role of the State Govt. with respect to inland waterways and traffic thereon, vehicles other than mechanically propelled vessels, and shipping and navigation in inland waterways other than national waterways.

“Entry-13..   Communications, that is to say, roads, bridges, ferries and other means of communication not specified in List 1; municipal tramways; ropeways; inland waterways and traffic thereon subject to the provision of List 1 and List 3 with regard to such waterways; vehicles other than mechanically propelled vehicles. “

“Entry-32..     Shipping and navigation on inland waterways as regards mechanically propelled vessels, and the rule of the road on such waterways and the carriage of passengers and goods on inland waterways subject to the provisions of List 1 with respect to national waterways.”         

10.    The Merchant Shipping Act 1958, Costing  Vessels Act1838, Indian Ports Act1908, Major Port Trusts Act, 1963 are the major legislations
governing the operation of Seagoing Ships and Ports. The Major ports are under the Central Government. The Minor Ports are governed by the State Governments.

11.   The Inland Vessels Act,1917 is a Central Act, consolidating various enactments relating to Inland (Mechanically  Propelled) Vessels. This
Act is applicable to all states except Jammu& Kashmir. The IWAI Act,1985 governs the regulation and development of the national waterways, a Central subject. Operation of ferries and non mechanically propelled vessels, a State Subject, is governed by the Northern India Ferries Act, Bengal Ferries Act, and in case of Kerala the Travancore  Public Canals and Public Ferries Act. 1096, the Cochin Public  Canals and Backwaters
Navigation Act. 1092,  the Madras Act, II of 1890 and rules made under these Acts. Kerala has since adopted the Inland Vessel Act 1917 and have notified the Kerala IV Rules 2010 for the inland mechanically propelled vessels. The Draft Rule prepared by the Consultants and under consideration is similar to the Kerala IV Rules 2010 in many ways, it is observed. The states like Assam, West Bengal, Odisha have rules made under the IV Act. They need not be replaced but updated with the present Draft Rules.

12    The functions of an IWT organization should include:-

(a)  perform all functions as provided in IV Act, 1917 and the rules made there under with  respect to mechanically propelled vessels.

(b)   control and regulate the operation of non-mechanized vessels and ferries as per the provisions of the Canals and Ferries Act and rules made thereunder.

(c)   carry out surveys and investigations for the development, maintenance and better utilization of the  waterways, excluding national watrways, and the appurtenant land for shipping and navigation and prepare schemes in this behalf;

(d)   provide or permit setting up of infrastructural facilities for waterways

(e)   carry out conservancy measures and training works and do all other acts necessary for the safety and convenience of shipping and navigation and improvement of the waterways

(f)  control activities such as throwing rubbish, dumping or removal of material, in or from the bed of the  waterways and appurtenant land, in so far as they may affect  safe and efficient, shipping and navigation, maintenance of navigable channels, river training and conservancy measures;

(g)  Remove or alter any obstruction or impediment in the  waterways and the Appurtenant land which may impede the safe navigation or endanger safety of infrastructural facilities or conservancy measures where such obstruction or impediment has been lawfully made or has become lawful by reason of long continuance of such obstruction or impediment or otherwise, after making compensation to person suffering damage by such removal or alteration;

(h)  Provide for regulation of navigation and traffic (including the rule of the road) on waterways;

(i)  regulate the construction or alteration of structures on across or under the waterways;

(j)  disseminate navigational meterorological information about  waterways;

(k) ensure co-ordination of inland water transport on  waterways with other modes of transport; and

(l) establish and maintain pilotage and waterway-patrol, safety inspections and search and rescue on  waterways.

(m)  advise the  State Government on matters relating to inland water transport;

(n) study the transport requirement with a view to co-ordinating inland water transport with other modes of transport;

(o) carry out hydrographic surveys and publish river charts;

(p) Classification of all state waterways; prevention from encroachment and preservation of navigability.

(q)  arrange programme of technical training for inland water transport personnel .

13.   An over view of the organistion in  some of the maritime states is attempted. The Ganga (NW-1), Brahmaputra (NW-2), Sunderbans along with Jamuna in Bangladesh constitutes the longest international IWT route. Even prior to the independence this used to be an important IWT route carrying cargo and passengers with large steam and motor vessels. The organization consisted of IWT Directorates in West Bengal, Assam
and Bihar. All activities were governed by the Inland Vessel Act, 1917. Even today the system continues in West Bengal, Assam, Bihar and Orissa .The IWT Directorate function under the Transport Ministry.

14..     The Mercantile Marine Departments(MMD) and the Maritime boards are organizations set up under the Merchant Shipping Act
primarily meant for sea going ocean  and coastal vessels and for developments of minor ports. In some states like Maharastra and Gujarat the IWT functions have been delegated to their Maritime Boards. In Goa the IWT functions are being performed by the Captain of Ports, who is in charge of the Minor Ports. In Tamilnadu the IWT functions, though limited are entrusted with the MMD. In all these cases the IWT is mainly lighterage operations which are an extension of the port activity and some passenger movement.

The IWT organization should have the flexibility of operation as of a private company and the power of the government; a body corporate or an authority. The first option therefore is to set up an IWT Development Authority.

The second option would be to set up/ strengthen the IWT Directorates like in West Bengal and Assam The third option is to bring the IWT under the state Maritime Board, a statutory body with statutory powers in a pattern similar to the Gujarat or Maharashtra Maritime Board ,to be in charge of the planning, development and functioning of minor ports and entrusting this body with the inland water transport sector.


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