The Indian Waterways is a network that forms an intricate tapestry over a terrain that is as diverse as the myriad languages and dialects of this wonderful nation. Waterway use and its development have been a significant part of our culture since ancient times. In the modern era, however, the inland waterways are yet to receive due importance and position. The most important reason for sub-optimal utilisation is that a waterway needs to be developed with inland water transport (IWT) infrastructure namely navigation channels, aids to navigation and terminals to make them a commercially viable mode of transportation vis-à-vis other prevalent modes e.g. road and rail.
Water transport is a low-cost alternative to road, especially for bulk commodities like coal, petroleum products, minerals and metals, food grains, livestock, building materials like sand, stone, cement, steel, etc, resulting in incremental benefit to the consumer in the form of reduced prices.
Rivers can be straight, meandering, braided etc. It is difficult to find a natural, straight channel since rivers, which carry a substantial sediment load, invariably follow a meandering path in an attempt to follow the path of least resistance. Technical reasons for this have been well documented. Braiding is more common in alluvial rivers and one river can have both meandering and braided characteristics due to the change of the channel slope and/or the grain size of the bed material.