Kerala’s industrial development is certain to get a major boost, if the opportunities thrown open by the latest river-sea vessel rules are exploited. The new rules, aimed at boosting coastal shipping, facilitates lower cost of construction and operation.

The objective of the new rules is to seamlessly integrate seaborne trade from inland waters to coastal waters and to provide a standard for construction, safe operation and certification of river-sea vessels exclusively engaged in trade between nearby ports.

Earlier, India was following Merchant Shipping (MS) Act, which have been adopted uniformly for the ships in the coastal and foreign going trades, for building and operating ships for coastal transportation. With the introduction of river-sea rules there will be significant reduction in construction cost by dispensing with requirements under regulations of the MS Act.

In this regard, the order of the Directorate General of Shipping had upgraded requirements for inland vessels to enable them to operate with cargo within 12 nautical miles of the coast.

According to officials, the development of river-sea container movement will need a number of floating assets to meet the requirement. This would lead to construction of more vessels. The officials pointed out that the construction of 2,000 tonne capacity river container vessels would throw open more job opportunities for engineers and designers.

Already some of the private shipyards have started moving in this direction by venturing into construction of river-sea vessels in the state. Ships capable of carrying 6,000 tonnes of cargo can be built under these rules and this means lower cost of construction and operation.

At a time when the state Government is going ahead with its plans to improve road infrastructure, the officials said that just one river-sea container vessel can take 100 trailers off the roads, thereby reducing congestion and preventing accidents.

sanjeevkumar@thehindu.co.in

(This article was published on August 19, 2012)
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