Update: 1 pm IST, 6 Jan -- The Union Cabinet on Wednesday approved the transfer of land from Farakka Barrage Project to Inland Waterways Authority for construction of a new navigational lock, which helps in lowering and raising ships, boats, etc in a step to facilitate use of waterways for shipping cargo.

Original Story -- The Shipping Ministry will launch the first River Information System (RIS), akin to Air Traffic Control, to monitor and coordinate ships using the inland waterway network developed by the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI).

The RIS will be able to provide real-time data about the location of the ships, provide information about fairway, meteorology and river safety, and also remote communication.

It will cover a 500-km stretch between Haldia and Farakka in West Bengal on National Waterway 1, which is the Ganga river.

To facilitate tracking, the route will be fitted with radars and sensors.

It will soon be mandatory for medium and big vessels to furnish ships with the RIS-enabled communication systems.

"The RIS has been established to track vessels and advise them about nearby vessels, waterway information, meteorological information and river safety for ensuring efficient and collision-free navigation," a senior government official told Economic Times.

"There was no system available to monitor and manage vessel traffic on our rivers. With the inland waterways network being increased to 111 rivers, we'll need a robust system to manage traffic," the official said.

The information system was built to promote use of waterways as it costs less and reduces air pollution.

India is also set to increase the number of waterways from six to 111.

Similar river information systems already exist in Europe, the US, China and South America.