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Kerala considering coastal shipping project linking minor ports with Kochi

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KOCHI : A coastal shipping project linking non-major ports along the coast of Kerala with the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam in Kochi is under the consideration of the State government with a Mumbai-based shipping line evincing interest in pressing two ships for coastal shipping services.

The project is part of a plan to divert the transportation of a portion of the container cargo shipped from various parts of the State through the ICTT through water.

An incentive policy is under the consideration of the State government to promote coastal shipping, which is likely to shift around 20% to 30% of the container cargo movement through road to water. The company has expressed interest in the project following a study on the volume of containers shipped through the ICTT at Vallarpadam from the northern and southern parts of the State. It has communicated to the Kerala Maritime Board (KMB) that if at least 20-30% of the cargo transported to and from the ICTT can be shifted to water, the project to link non-major ports such as Vizhinjam, Kollam, Beypore, and Azhikkal can be made viable.

Fuel subsidy

The company has put forward a suggestion to provide 50% fuel subsidy for coastal shipping until the project breaks even. Earlier, the State government had provided a subsidy of ₹1 a km/tonne, which was later increased to ₹3 a km/tonne as part of promoting coastal shipping.

Kerela Maritime Board Chairman Mr. N.S. Pillai said that the company had come forward with the proposal in response to the maritime summit organised by the State in Mumbai recently. The State has now constituted a committee to look into how an incentive scheme to meet 50% of the fuel cost can be drafted until the project reaches break-even. The committee will soon submit a report to the Kerala Maritime Board and the State will take a decision on the project after assessing the report. The project is workable against the backdrop of the scheduled opening of the Vizhinjam international seaport this year. Plus, the project is expected to decongest national highways significantly and reduce carbon emissions. Further, at least 20-30% can be saved on road transportation costs if the cargo is switched to water, said Mr. Pillai.

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