Waterways is an important mode of transport for both passenger and cargo traffic in India. The most ancient mode of water transport includes rivers, canals, lakes and coastal areas. Cargo as well as passenger was transported from one place to another through boats and steamers. There are different factors that affect the development of inland waterways. These include the navigability width and depth of the channel, continuity in the water flow and the transport technology. Inland waterways are the only means of transport in dense forests. Also, heavy cargo goods like coal, cement, timber and metallic ores can be transported through this mode. River ways were the main highways for transportation during the ancient times but gradually lost its importance because of competition faced from railways, lack of water due to increase in irrigation and poor maintenance. Its importance has been recognised in the developed world for both domestic and international trade. Efforts have been made to modify rivers to enhance navigability by dredging, stabilising river banks, and building dams and barrages for better regulation of water flow.
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