Amitabh Verma is an Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer of the 1982 batch of the Bihar cadre. He has been chairman, Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), since September 2013.
In his current role, he is responsible for the development and management of India’s inland water transport (IWT) sector. IWAI is the apex body for the development and regulation of inland waterways under the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India. Set up in October 1986, by an act of Parliament, its role encompasses that of a provider, facilitator and regulator of the IWT sector. While IWAI is directly responsible for the development and regulation of national waterways, it is also expected to assist state governments in the development of IWT.
India has a potentially navigable river network of about 14,500 km, of which only 2,968 km or 20.4 per cent is operational. According to Verma, “In the past, one of the reasons for inland waterways not being optimally tapped was due to the focus of post- Independence governments on speed, which led to higher allocations to road and railway development.”
Under Verma’s leadership, the focus on developing inland waterways as a preferred mode of transport has increased. Recently, in March 2016, the cabinet gave its approval to carry out amendments to the National Waterways Bill, 2015 and declared 106 additional waterways, as national waterways. Meanwhile, the development of a river information system for national waterways is also in progress. So far, the system has been made operational on a 560 km stretch between Haldia and Farakka.
Verma is a political science graduate from the University of Delhi and holds a postgraduate degree in Economics from the University of Manchester, UK. Apart from this he also earned a portgraduate degree in political science from the University of Delhi.
Before his assignment at IWAI, Verma held a number of important posts such as joint secretary (banking) in the Ministry of Finance and principal secretary in the Bihar government in the Panchayati Raj Department, Cooperative Department, Social Welfare Department, and Animal Husbandry & Fisheries Department. In the past, he has also served in the Ministry of Commerce and Industry and Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution.