India Boosts Coastal Shipping Infrastructure
India’s Ministry of Shipping has announced new financial assistance for both major and minor ports to help in the development of coastal shipping infrastructure.
India’s ports have struggled due to a lack of berthing facilities, which often forces vessels to spend inordinate amounts of time waiting to dock. It is estimated that coastal vessels in India spend about 70 percent of their time in ports and only 30 percent in actual voyage.
Daily Shipping Times reports that the scheme will fund construction or upgrade of exclusive coastal berths for coastal cargo ships and berths and jetties for passenger ferries. It will also support dredging, the construction of breakwaters, and special jetties for hovercrafts and seaplanes.
Up to 50 percent of a project will be financed under the scheme, with the remainder expected to be provided by the ports and their state governments.
Currently, coastal shipping only moves around seven percent of India’s domestic cargo. The new scheme aims to reduce congestion on road and rail networks and facilitate intermodal transfer. It also aims to reduce emissions through the promotion of shipping over other modes of transport.
India hopes to drive economic development by expanding and optimizing its transportation assets (such as roads, inland waterways and coastal routes).
Last year, India has announced plans to relax its cabotage laws for five years in the hope of boosting trade and decongesting its roads and railways. The loosened cabotage laws will allow foreign operation of RoRo, Ro-Pax, PCTC, LNG vessels and project cargo carriers to transport cargo between ports along the Indian coast.