NEW DELHI: The Government push for movement of goods through waterways has resulted in shift of cargo from road and rail to coastal waterways. The average annual growth of cargo moved through coastal waterways has increased by 10 times since the Government came to power, Shipping Ministry officials said.
“The average growth rate was only 1.4% between 2009-10 and 2013-14. This increased to 14.2% during 2014-15 and 2017-18 period. We expect this to go up further as the size of parcels get bigger. More players will shift to coastal movement of such cargo rather than depending on road and rail,” said a Ministry official.
According to the latest Shipping Ministry data, during the last financial year coastal cargo traffic handled by all ports stood at 234 million tonnes, which was 16% more than the previous year. Thermal coal is the main commodity which is transported through the coastal waterways. However, recent steps by the Government have increased the movement of steel, grains, fertilisers and automobiles through Coastal Shipping.
In China, more than one billion tonnes of coal, steel, grains and fertilisers are transported using the coastal sea route and they have specially built coastal vessels for this purpose.
Currently, about 55% of the cargo is transported through roads, about 33% by railways and 6% each by pipelines and Coastal Shipping.
The Shipping Ministry has set the target to double the share of transportation of cargo through Coastal Shipping and inland water navigation by 2025 under the Sagarmala programme.
Officials said a number of steps taken in the past three-four years has helped the sector, which include the reduction in GST on bunker fuel to only 5% from the earlier 18%, financial incentives to states and ports for building exclusive berth for coastal cargo and introducing green channel clearance for coastal cargo.