Policy initiatives are needed to promote coastal shipping and inland water transport , said Mr Shekhar Dutt, Governor of Chhattisgarh.
Reserving coastal cargo for Indian ships with a policy on cabotage, reserving cargo for inland waterways and integrating smaller ports with inland waterways will come as a shot in the arm for the growth of inland water transport.
At a conference on ‘Coastal Shipping, Inland Waterways and Surveillance’, organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry here on Saturday , Mr Dutt said India has six per cent of the world’s seafarers with 30,000 officers. There is no dearth of skills or motivation, he said.
The need is to encourage container shipping that allows major ports to connect with minor ports which, in turn, will connect the inland waterways, he said. The cost of developing inland waterways would be a mere 5 to 10 per cent of the cost of developing an equivalent four-lane highway or railway.
Mr B. Santhanam, Deputy Chairman, CII (Southern Region) and Managing Director of Saint Gobain Glass India Ltd, said nearly 90 per cent of the country’s international trade by volume was carried by sea. However, the use of inland water transportation is insignificant, except in Kerala, he said.
Vice-Admiral (Retd) Pradeep Kaushiva, Director, National Maritime Foundation, said inland water transport was more economical, fuel efficient and environment friendly. One litre of fuel can move 105 tonne a km as against 85 tonne by rail and 24 tonne by road. But, still the changeover to coastal shipping from road and rail transportation is yet to happen, he observed.
Mr C. Sylendra Babu, Additional DGP, Coastal Security, Tamil Nadu, said the importance of coastal security has been recognised by the State much earlier than the Mumbai attack. The Coastal Security Group of Tamil Nadu is a specialised agency that has established a good security system to safeguard its long coastline and territorial waters, he said.