Kochi, Sep 14 (IANS) The Kerala government plans to decongest the state roads, diverting at least 20 percent of the cargo traffic through coastal shipping by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020.
The state is planning to do this through a three-pronged strategy comprising building of infrastructure and institutions and providing incentives.
“To reduce the risk in cargo transport, to decongest the roads and to prevent environmental degradation, the government proposes to divert at least 20 percent of the cargo through coastal shipping by 2015 and 40 percent by 2020,” Ports, Excise and Fisheries Minister K. Babu said here Friday.
Speaking at the sectoral session on ports, shipbuilding and logistics at the Emerging Kerala-2012 conference, he said that at the initial stages priority will be given to specified cargoes.
Babu said the coastal traffic potential through non-major ports of the state is estimated to be 4.64 million tonnes during 2012-14 and 7 million tonnes by 2019-20.
According to him, among the infrastructure development initiatives in the port sector, Vizhinjam International Container Trans-shipment Terminal is the prime project of the state.
“This project is proposed to follow landlord model, where dredging, reclamation, construction of breakwater, quay wall and external infrastructure like power, water, road and rail connectivity are done by the Vizhinjam International Seaport Ltd. The building of terminal superstructure and its operation for 30 years is proposed to be done by the private operator on PPP (public-private-partnership) model.”
Kollam, Alappuzha, Kodungallore, Ponnani, Beypore and Azheekkal ports are also earmarked for development.
“Besides this, an Oceanarium in Kochi and a few other projects to optimally utilise the coastal and inland waters are there,” Babu said.
About incentives for shifting cargo movement to waterways, Babu said financial assistance in the form of soft loans at interest of two percent for seven years up to an amount of 40 percent of the total construction cost of the vessel and 10 percent interest for amounts up to 80 percent are under consideration.
A coastal shipping fund will also be set up for the purpose.
According to him, the Kerala Maritime Board, to be set up shortly, will implement the projects and operate the coastal shipping fund.
“The Kerala Maritime Board will act as a single window for facilitation for investors and operators in the port, shipping and logistics sector.”