India and Russia are keen to make the Chennai – Vladivostok maritime route operational, and a stakeholder meeting to work out details have been scheduled in September, Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal told businessline.

The Vladivostok – Chennai route passes through the Sea of Japan, the South China Sea and Malacca Strait.

The route, Sonowal says, will bring down transport time to 12 days, almost a third of what is taken under the existing popular route that covers from St Petersburg to Mumbai.

At the same time, costs are expected to come down significantly - “by 30 per cent- odd” - sources said.

The current maritime route, St Petersburg to Mumbai, is said to be an 8,675 nautical mile (16,000 km) one. Against this, the proposed Vladivostok – Chennai route is said to be 5647 nautical miles (10,500 km) long.

“Talks are on to operationalise the Vladivostok – Chennai maritime route. This is a 10 – 12 day route and ships using this route will lead to savings in time and cost. Russian officials came to India to carry out a feasibility exercise in May. And we (Indian officials) have gone there some months back to check out the infrastructure and other facilities there. A stakeholder meeting is planned in September,” he said during an interview.

Those aware of the discussions say, one of the issues being looked at includes improvement and possible re-laying of approach roads to Vladivostok port; while there are some issues with the draft there, that needs to be taken care of too.

“Whether we will need further investments, and what are the issues that needs to be taken care of from both sides, will be taken up in the September meeting,” Sonowal added.

During the 2019 visit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi signed a Memorandum of Intent (MoI) on the ‘Development of Maritime Communications between the Port of Vladivostok and the Port of Chennai.

According to Sonowal, the new route would also give India access to the Far East, including countries like Mongolia, and the largest presence in the South East Asian region.

While export from Russia could include coal, crude oil and LNG, apart from commodities like apples and kiwis.; shipments from India could include construction equipment, construction materials, pharma, among others.