Shipping Ministry Unveils Ambitious Township and Green Maritime Initiatives

The Shipping Ministry is developing a new township policy aimed at transforming port-adjacent areas into thriving communities. According to sources familiar with the plan, this policy will leverage the extensive vacant land around key ports to develop townships, with private developers invited to bid for these real estate projects. It has been deemed as a strategic move to revitalize the regions surrounding India’s major ports.

The initial phase of this ambitious project will focus on major ports in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, and Vishakapatnam, with plans to extend the initiative to all ports across the country eventually. The goal is to create vibrant, economically sustainable communities that can support and benefit from the bustling port activities, thereby boosting local economies and improving living standards.

In tandem with the township policy, the Shipping Ministry is also preparing a substantial INR 5,000-crore package under a new viability gap funding (VGF) scheme. This initiative is designed to stimulate the construction of inland vessels, which are crucial for improving domestic maritime transport. The VGF scheme is expected to eventually expand to support the manufacturing of sea-bound vessels, including cruise ships, further enhancing India’s maritime capabilities.

As part of the government’s 100-day agenda, there is a significant push to introduce more vessels powered by cleaner fuels under the Harit Nauka scheme. The Harit Nauka – Inland Vessels Green Transition Guidelines, published in January 2024, underscore the government’s commitment to promoting the use of electric and hydrogen fuels in the maritime sector. This initiative aims to achieve a full transition to low or zero-emission fuel sources, targeting 100% green vessels in Indian waters by 2047.

The initiative aims to build stakeholder confidence in the maritime sector by promoting a transition to greener and cleaner fuels. By fostering a green maritime environment, the government hopes to reduce the carbon footprint of the shipping industry and contribute to global sustainability goals.

The government is also focusing on promoting shipbuilding and repair within India, aiming to develop a robust ecosystem and infrastructure for this industry. Discussions are ongoing about expanding incentives to make shipbuilding and repair more attractive to investors and developers. This includes potentially increasing the current 20% capital support and expanding the range of ships eligible for building and repairs.

In a testament to the country’s commitment to pioneering green technology in the maritime sector, the government plans to deploy its first hydrogen fuel cell vessel in Varanasi, Prime Minister Modi’s constituency, by August. This initiative reflects India’s dedication to integrating advanced, eco-friendly technologies into its maritime operations.

According to data from the Ministry of Shipping, as of December 31, 2022, India had a fleet of 1,520 vessels with a gross tonnage (GT) of 13.69 million, marking an increase from the previous year’s 1,491 vessels and 12.99 million GT. This represents a net addition of 29 vessels and an increase of 0.7 million GT in 2022. Projections by the Directorate General of Shipping suggest a marginal growth in the fleet to approximately 1,530 vessels and an increase in gross tonnage to around 14 million GT by December 2023.

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