Experts call for Kerala’s shipping sector to utilise the opportunities offered by coastal waterways

Worried of not fully leveraging the opportunities, experts in Kerala’s shipping sector have called for utilising the endless opportunities offered by coastal waterways for cargo movement.

M.Beena, Chairperson, Cochin Port Trust said that one main challenge faced is to effectively utilise the coastal waterways and small ports for cargo-handling. The shifting of cargo from roads to waterways would be economically viable and environmental friendly.

Highlighting the potential of Kerala’s waterways at the recently concluded Maritime India Summit, she said that cashew from Kollam, and movement of cement and tiles from Cochin Port Trust to other parts would save considerable time and resource management.

Speaking on the Maritime development VP Salim Kumar, CEO, Kerala Maritime Board, informed that the government has envisaged an investment of $1.68 billion over the next five years for the development of ports and the maritime sector that comprises the proposed Vizhinjam International Transhipment Container Terminal, Azheekal Seaport Development, Kollam and Beypore Ports Capacity Building and Coastal Shipping Development.

The development of Azheekal Multi-Purpose Port. at an estimated investment of $140. 25 million, would accelerate development activities in the Malabar region, he said.

The government of India has also identified several projects which include coastal areas for bulk and container cargo shipping, kattamaran services along the coast, promotion of coastal tourism including water sports, marina development in Alappuzha and Thalassery, and projects such as seafood park in Kodungallur, ship repair unit in Kollam and a floating dry dock.

Highlighting the advantage of skilled workforce, NSK Umesh, Executive Director, Kerala State Industrial Development Corporation (KSIDC) said that Kerala has more skilled manpower than other States and it could be effectively utilised. The development of ports would open up huge possibilities in the industry. There is a need to set up more food with increased focus on exports. The State is focussing more attention on the on development of smaller ports.

According to LS Radhakrishnan, Managing Director and CEO, Azheekal Port, investments to the tune of INR 3,700 crore would help in the economic growth of North Kerala and he requested for private partnerships to set up warehouses and industrial parks in the region.

Jayakumar, Managing Director and CEO, Vizhinjam International Seaport, said the implementation of the INR 7,700 crore project would pave the way for investments in information technology, marine, ship building, ship repair and agri-textile sectors and enable the formation of a maritime cluster.

Savio Mathew, Head, FICCI Kerala State Council, suggested priority should be given to start coastal shipping service. The warehouses should be developed with private investment focusing on ports.

Source: The Hindu Business Line

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