KOCHI: The opportunities and challenges faced by India’s coastal shipping industry as the country strives for a more optimal model mix among various modes of transportation will top the agenda at the upcoming 3rd edition of Coastal Shipping and IWT Business Forum 2015 here on Friday (August 7).
The business forum comes in the backdrop of a renewed thrust given to the fledgling sector by the NDA government which came into power last year.Investor-friendly policies are being framed by the shipping ministry-led by Nitin Gadkari to revive coastal shipping, said K Mohandas, chairman of the business forum, organised by India Seatrade.
“The government has taken the bold step to incentivise shippers for using coastal shipping and IWT (Inland Water Transport) with the aim of shifting cargo away from road and rail. Ports have been asked to provide priority berthing for coastal vessels at no extra cost, both at major and privately-run ports including the container terminals operating at these ports. These are indications of good days ahead for the industry. The government is also seeking private participation through PPP route for development of dedicated berths with efficient cargo handling systems and warehousing facilities.
“How soon will these measures bear fruit is the question that needs to be answered,” said Mohandas, who is a former union shipping secretary.
The maritime community has been voicing concerns over lack of dedicated infrastructure for coastal vessels. While major ports will have designated berths in some time, issues such as draft, first and last-mile connectivity by rail and road, handling facilities and sufficient modern tonnage to move cargoes need to be addressed, he said. China, for instance, moves one billion tonnes of cargo by 12,000 coastal vessels, while India has only 140 such vessels to carry 150 million tonnes of commodities or 6 per cent of overall cargo movement.There is a dire need to address the concerns of users to realise the vision of promoting coastal shipping, the organisers said.
Lulu Mariott Hotel, Kochi, will be venue of the conference. For more details; contact: K N Sudheer, India Seatrade: 9744277700.