Visakhapatnam Port Authority (VPA) is stepping up focus on coastal shipping in view of substantial coastal traffic being handled by the port. 

“We have excellent facilities and dedicated berth arrangements for coastal shipping. There is a synergy and ecosystem being developed post launch of PM Gati Shakti Yojana, with promotion of internal trade etc,’‘ Madhaiyaan Angamuthu, Chairperson, VPA told businessline

The coastal traffic handled at Visakhapatnam port constitute 26 to 30 per cent of the total traffic handled during the last two financial years. During FY23, VPA handled 73.75 million metric tonnes (MMT) of cargo, out of which 31 per cent pertained to coastal. It was almost the same during the previous financial year too. 

The target for coastal traffic during the current year set by the Ministry is 20 MMT and so far (during the first quarter) the port handled 5.10 MMT of coastal cargo, as per VPA data. 

Also read: Cochin Port achieves record cargo traffic of 35.255 mt in FY23

Promoting coastal shipping

VPA has also aligned its policies and strategies for promoting coastal shipping through the port like priority berthing facility for vessels under coastal run, concession in tariff for both vessel cargo related charges, dedicated cargo berth for handling coastal cargo with required back up storage yard facility. 

Broad policy initiatives being offered for promotion of coastal shipping include green channel clearance for coastal cargo through customs, exemption in customs examination of coastal cargo prior to shipment/landing and concession to an extent of 40 percent to coastal cargo vessels, among others. 

“Moreover, we are in the economic and energy corridor of the country with location advantage too,” the VPA Chairperson said. 

Also read: ‘India’s major ports are readying for growth’

In the context of Maritime India, coastal shipping plays a key role in the EXIM trade. In this backdrop, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping & Waterways has recently taken a slew of initiatives for development of coastal shipping in the country. 

Initiatives taken

They include reduction of GST on bunker fuel from 18 per cent to 5 per cent, licensing relaxation for some categories of special vessels, priority berthing policy for coastal vessels to reduce turnaround time for them and relaxation of CABOTAGE rules for foreign vessels for fertilisers, agricultural products and EXIM containers for trans-shipment in India on coastal routes. 

It is estimated that a coastal shipping traffic of about 250 MMTPA can be achieved from current and planned capacities across coal, cement, iron and steel, food grains and fertilisers by 2025. Additionally, 125 MMTPA cargo is expected to be moved via inland waterways by the same period.