New Delhi: In a bid to boost coastal shipping, the government has asked all the 12 major ports to accord priority berthing to such vessels and facilitate faster movement of cargo.
"Major ports shall accord priority berthing, at least on one berth, to dry bulk/general cargo coastal vessels to enable shippers to transport goods from one port in India to another port in India irrespective of origin and final destination of the cargo," Ministry of Shipping has directed major ports.
This would be in addition to dedicated berth, for handling of coastal thermal coal already existing in major ports, the ministry said.
India has 12 major ports - Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Managlore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, VO Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of cargo traffic.
The ministry directed the ports to accord priority berthing through "specific window to coastal container vessels".
It has also undertaken a slew of steps to promote coastal shipping including measures to tap global environment fund for creating additional capacities in the sector.
Earlier this month, Shipping Secretary Vishwapati Trivedi has said that quick decisions in policy issues in the current political environment has given a push to the sector and efforts are on to tap the World Bank-managed Global Environment Fund (GEF) to promote coastal shipping.
At present India occupies 17th slot in global shipping capacity in EXIM trade measures are on to enhance it as the Ministry plans to boost coastal shipping four-fold by 2020.
India has a coastline over 7,000 km long yet coastal shipping in the country is still in its infancy with a fleet of about 700 ships accounting for just about 10 per cent of the total tonnage.
India's EXIM cargo in terms of volume is approximately 611 million tonnes (MT) valued at about USD 279 billion.