Coastal Shipping to get infrastructure status: Sonowal

In an interview, the Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways said, Sarbananda Sonowalsaid the ministry holds stakeholder consultations on coastal shipping development in a public-private partnership mode.

The Union Department for Ports, Shipping and Waterways has proposed giving coastal shipping infrastructure status, a government priority. The status entitles a sector to several benefits and perks, including cheaper bank loans. In an interview, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal said the ministry is holding consultations with stakeholders to develop coastal shipping as part of a public-private partnership.

He also said that a stakeholder consultation is underway for proposed profitability gap (VGF) funding for coastal shipping – when ships switch between ports within a country.

On the development of the Chabahar Port, the minister said Iran and India are nearing completion of the amended terms of the long-term contract. Edited excerpts:

Shipping and waterways were greatly promoted. What was the progress?

Our goal is to increase the efficiency and productivity of ports, shipping and waterways and to strengthen our outstanding position in the global maritime industry. The targets set out in Maritime India Vision-2030 provide a clear roadmap for comprehensive improvements in port modernization and automation, coastal shipping, shipbuilding, ship repair, renewable energy transition, increasing the proportion of Indian seafarers around the world and the Improvement of the ship turning time, the expansion of transhipment points, the cruise shipping and the expansion of capacity in the major ports. Focus is also on the development and operationalization of inland waterways for improved connectivity and creating an environment for positive modal shift from road and rail to waterways.

What steps can be expected in coastal shipping?

Coastal shipping is to be promoted as an energy-efficient and cost-effective mode of transport through PPP with the support of VGF (Viability Gap Funding). The ministry has already taken a number of initiatives to promote coastal shipping. Facilities such as dedicated coastal berths, priority berthing, cabotage facilities for ro-ro/ro-pax vessels, concessions on berth and handling charges and bunkering are already being provided to motivate all stakeholders to use coastal transport to transport passengers and goods around the country . The Ministry is proposing to include “coastal shipping” as an eligible sector in the Treasury’s existing VGF programme. The inclusion of coastal shipping as a sector in the “Harmonized List of Infrastructures” is also proposed. These moves will make the sector eligible for various concessions to improve the sector’s overall capability and help attract cargo and passengers to this mode of transport.

What is the Chabahar port update? Is there a long term agreement there?

The long-term agreement (10-year term) with the Iranian authorities was signed in Tehran in the presence of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but could not be activated due to later changes proposed by the Iranian side in certain provisions of the agreement. The government has made efforts to finalize and activate the long-term contract. There are now short-term contracts in place that will enable us to operate the terminals. Recently, during the visit of the Iranian delegation to India (in January), the activation of a long-term contract was also discussed, and both sides have made significant progress in finalizing the amended terms of the long-term contract. Once the contract is completed, the long-term contract will be activated.

How are we moving towards making the country a global hub for green ship manufacturing? Will the tugboat initiative affect the big ship development plan?

The financial support provided by the Shipbuilding Financial Assistance (SBFA) program for shipbuilding, which is granted to Indian shipyards by the government to make India a desirable destination for technologically advanced green ships, is the main reason why Indian shipbuilding is competing with international shipyards is competitive. This is proven by the recent acquisition of new projects from Indian shipyards. Cochin Shipyards has received orders from several European customers, including Norwegian shipping companies. The Ministry is also launching the “Green Tug Transition Program (GTTP)” in ports, starting with “Green Hybrid Tugs”, adopting Green Hybrid propulsion systems (with Battery+ Diesel Electric OR Battery+ Diesel Mechanical) and then adopting non-fossil fuel solutions (methanol, ammonia, hydrogen) to be built at Indian shipyards. Tug building projects will support and likely supplement large ship production.

What will happen to the plan to develop megaports in the country? Are we trying to attract global investment in such projects?

A modern all-weather port with a deep draft (20 meters) has been approved in Vadhavan. It will be located in Dahanu Taluka in Maharashtra. The port is being developed as a Land Lord model and is expected to have a capacity of 308 MTPA when complete and fully operational. The port is being developed by an SPV with JNPA and Maharashtra Maritime Board as members (with a stake of 74% and 26% respectively). The general approval for the project was granted in February 2020. The basic infrastructure, including breakwater, reclamation, rail and road links, electricity, water mains and common utilities, is being developed by the SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) among others. . Terminal operations and cargo handling infrastructure are offered to private agencies in PPP mode. The project is currently in the phase of receiving NOC from DTEPA (Dahanu Taluka Ecologically Fragile Area) as part of ToR (Terms of Reference) for processing for EC (Environmental Clearance) and CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) clearance.

How would you respond to the environmental concerns about the proposed port of transshipment on Great Nicobar Island?

The project is progressing according to plan. Given the project’s size, strategic location and geological and ecological sensitivities, the MoPSW is in constant contact with various stakeholders for the development of the project.

How do you want to develop the eastern waterway network?

Encouraged by progress in developing the Ganga river system (National Waterways 1) and the huge potential for trade with Bangladesh and East Asia more broadly, the government has fleshed out the plan to develop a “regional waterway network” that includes important and certain international routes, mainly located in India and Bangladesh, of about 5000 km of navigable waterways to promote regional integration and trade. The seamless connection of NW 1 (Ganges) and NW 2 (Brahmaputra) would also create the opportunity to develop a 3500 km economic corridor connecting North East India to the rest of India through Bangladesh and also Bhutan and Nepal to Bangladesh and India through multimodal links connects . The Eastern Grid will benefit 600 million people in one of the most dense parts of the world. The project report for the network is in preparation to be submitted as a project to the Treasury. The total cost of the project is likely between 7000-9000 crores.

Source: LiveMint

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