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Water Transport In India Essays


The movement of goods from one place to another is called transport. Transport removes the hindrances of persons, place and time in exchange of goods and commodities. Effective transport plays an important role in the economic progress of the country.

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The various modes of transport can be classified into three main divisions:

  • Land Transport
  • Water Transport
  • Air Transport

Land Transport

The chief forms of land transport are:

I. Pathways Transport: Pathways are an important form of land transport. It is the oldest form of transport found in hilly areas, forest areas and in remote places. These are used by human beings and animals for transport. In forest and hilly areas transport is carried on through human beings. Animal transport has also played a significant role where there is no road and railway communication.

II. Roadways Transport: The Road is in every truth one of the great fundamental institutions of mankind. Its history dates back to the dawn of recorded history and beyond…. A people without the attributes of civilization. Man, the road builder, cannot be separated from Man, the builder of civilizations.

III. Tramways Transport: Tram cars, which are run on rails, are a very suitable mode of transport for carrying traffic during busy hours.

IV. Railways Transport: The railway has been the pioneer of modern mechanical transport. The first Indian railway train rolled on its 34 km track from Bombay to Thana on April 16, 1853. Right since its beginning and upto the advent of motor transport, it enjoyed monopoly as land transport. Railways have played a very significant role in the economic, social and political development of many countries in the world. Though the railway requires a very huge capital outlay as compared to other modes of transport, it is our principal means of transport. It carries about 70 to 80 percent of our total traffic of goods and people.

Water Transport

Water transport is the cheapest and the oldest mode of transport. It operates on a natural track and hence does not require huge capital investment in the construction and maintenance of its track except in case of canals. The cost of operation of water transport is also very less. It has the largest carrying capacity and is most suitable for carrying bulky goods over long distances. It has played a very significant role by bringing different parts of the world closer and is indispensable to foreign trade.

Kinds of water Transport

Water transport consists of:

I. Inland water transport: Inland water transport consists of transport by rivers, canals and lakes. Rivers are a natural highway which can be used as a means of transport. They are suitable for small boats as well as big barges. River transport played a very important role prior to the development of modern means of land transport.

II. Ocean Transport: Ocean transport is indispensable for the foreign trade. It has brought the different parts of the world closer and has knit together all the nations of the world into one big world market. It operates on a natural track i.e., the sea and does not require any investment in the construction and maintenance of its track. It is obviously, the cheapest mode of transport, Ocean transport includes (i) Coastal Shipping (ii) Overseas Shipping.

Air Transport

Air transport is the most recent mode of transport. It is the gift of the 20th century to the world. The two world wars gave a great impetus to the development of air transport in almost all the countries of the world. The peculiar characteristic of air transport is that it does not need a specific surface track for its operations. It has no physical barriers as in the case of other modes of transport. Political boundaries are also immaterial although it has to observe the requirements of the International Law. The supreme advantage of air transport lies in its quickness. It is the fastest mode of transport. But the cost of its operation is very high and thus it is suitable for only rich passengers, mails and light and costly cargo. However, in advanced countries like U.S.A., Germany, etc. it offers a tough competition to the railway.

Transport System in India

The most important means of transportation in a country are roads, railways, airways, and waterways. India has completely revolutionized its transportation system, both external and internal.

Rail Transport

Railways are the most important means of transportation in India. The improvement in railway communications in recent times has played a most important part in the internal development of the country. They have brought the different parts of the country closer.

The advent of the railway has been of special advantage to the peasantry. Social and political influences from railway construction have been no less.

Advantages of Railways

  • Travelling has become cheaper;
  • Defense of the country is less difficult.
  • Greater peace and order is maintained in the country, and
  • The spirit of nationalism has very greatly developed.

Road Transport

India has a vast network of roads, both metalled and unmetalled. However, this means of transport and communication are still inadequate for our needs. The vehicles that are mainly used on village roads are motorbuses, trucks, and bullock carts.

Before the advent of railways, roads were the only means of communication for the exportation of surplus produce. With the extension of the railway system, it has become more and more necessary to construct roads to feed the railways.

At present, the economic loss caused by the inaccessibility of many agricultural districts in the rainy season is very great. In sandy, hilly, and forest-covered tracts and in other parts of the country, where railways have not penetrated, road transport still holds an important share of long-distance traffic.

The opening of railways has created a demand for road-construction, which must be met by the local and provincial bodies. The question of developing the roads is also of vital importance. We cannot expect any significant progress in our rural economy unless there are good road connections between villages and towns.


Water transport is the oldest and cheapest form of transport. It is one of the most important external and internal means of transport in all the civilized countries of the world. It is useful for the carriage of bulky and heavy goods.

In India, we have many great river systems. However, they are unevenly distributed, some of them are fully utilized for irrigation purposes, and some others are naturally unfit for navigation.

In some parts of India, however, waterways are still extensively used for navigation purposes.

In India, more navigable rivers and canals should be made. And, a systematic policy for the development of the inland water transport should be pursued.

The question of shipping has also great importance in a country like India with a large coastline.

Air Transport System

Proper attention must also be given at the same time to air transport as another means of national and international communication. India possesses some natural advantages in this respect and they have to be fully exploited for development of airways.

The Government is taking a keen interest in the expansion of civil aviation not only for its importance as a means of transport but also because of its strategic value in the matter of national defense. There are also a large number of aerodromes in the country.

Also read: Aviation Industry in India: History, Growth, Challenges, FDI and Future


An analytic study of the above facts justifies the conclusion that the transport system of India is making good progress. The Government is providing all reasonable facilities for the development of the country’s transport. It is for the people to take advantage of the facilities offered and to step up the country’s progress in the way we desire. Millions of tons of raw materials and finished goods have to be transported over long distances and in the absence of transport facilities there will be bottlenecks in the transport of goods leading to undesirable consequences.

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