Govt identifies new routes for ferry services through inland waterways

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The domestic locations are Hazira, Okha, Somnath Temple, Diu, Pipavav, Dahej, Mumbai/JNPT, Jamnagar, Kochi, Ghogha, Goa, Mundra and Mandvi

To promote coastal shipping and boost tourism, new routes for ferry and RO-RO (Roll-on Roll-off) services have been identified that include Somnath Temple, Hazira, Okha and Jamnagar, the government said on Monday.

The destinations along with six international routes have been identified under the Sagarmala project, a flagship programme of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW).

The programme aims to promote port-led development in the country through harnessing India’s 7,500 km long coastline and potentially navigable waterways.

“MoPSW has identified domestic locations namely Hazira, Okha, Somnath Temple, Diu, Pipavav, Dahej, Mumbai/JNPT, Jamnagar, Kochi, Ghogha, Goa, Mundra and Mandvi…for the commencement of ferry services through inland waterways,” the ministry said in a statement.

Besides, six international routes, connecting 4 international destinations namely Chattogram (Bangladesh), Seychelles (East Africa) Madagascar (East Africa) and Jaffna (Sri Lanka) from Indian major coastal port towns have been identified for these services.

The ministry said it has been working continuously for the promotion of coastal shipping under Sagarmala programme.

MoPSW, through Sagarmala Development Company Ltd (SDCL), is desirous of facilitating the companies to operate RO-RO, RO-PAX and ferry services on various routes across the nation and provide the required support to make the project operational, it said.

MoPSW has recently implemented one of such services by deploying RO-PAX vessel ferry service between Hazira and Ghogha.

This ferry service has reduced the distance between Ghogha and Hazira from 370 km to 90 km and travel time from 10-12 hours to about 5 hours. This will result in huge savings of fuel to the tune of about 9,000 litres per day, it said.

“To replicate the success of the above business model, MoPSW now encourages the private operator to identify the routes, which offers potential to commence the RO-RO, RO-PAX ferry service based on the localized demand to promote the supplementary and sustainable mode of the transportation through coastal/inland water,” the statement said.

The purpose is to create a supplementary mode of transportation, which will not only be beneficial for the daily commuters, tourists’ movement and cargo transportation but also helpful in reducing carbon footprint by shifting to environment-friendly mode of transportation from rail and road.

The government said it will provide impetus to the tourism industry and create job opportunities in the coastal regions saving both cost and time for the users besides decongesting road and rail networks.

SDCL will support the initiative by providing equity to the project in SPV framework, if required, and provide other assistance and facilitation to the private operators including obtaining various permissions and approvals from regulatory and statutory government authorities, it added.

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