Kerala explores coastal shipping project to ease container cargo traffic

The State government is contemplating a coastal shipping initiative connecting non-major ports along Kerala’s coast to the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) in Vallarpadam, Kochi.

A Mumbai-based shipping line has shown interest in deploying two ships for this service, aiming to divert a portion of container cargo transportation from the ICTT to water routes.

As part of a broader plan to encourage coastal shipping, the State government is considering an incentive policy that could shift 20% to 30% of container cargo movement from road to water. The shipping company, after studying container volumes at the ICTT, proposed linking non-major ports like Vizhinjam, Kollam, Beypore, and Azhikkal to Vallarpadam, envisioning viability if a significant percentage of cargo shifts to water transport.

The company suggests a 50% fuel subsidy for coastal shipping until the project becomes profitable. Previously, the State government offered subsidies ranging from ₹1 to ₹3 per km/tonne to promote coastal shipping.

Following the maritime summit in Mumbai, the company presented this proposal to the Kerala Maritime Board (KBM). A committee has now been formed to explore the formulation of a fuel cost incentive scheme, expected to cover 50% of the expenses until the project breaks even. The committee will submit its findings to the Kerala Maritime Board, and the State will make a decision based on the assessment. 

The project aligns with the upcoming opening of the Vizhinjam international seaport this year and promises significant decongestion of national highways, reduced carbon emissions, and potential savings of 20-30% on road transportation costs. According to N.S. Pillai, the Maritime Board chairman, these factors contribute to the project’s feasibility.

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