For development of any country transport network is an essential infrastructure. Inadequate transport system can seriously affect the development process. Transport modes in India except Railways and Roads have been still not developed much in India even after a lot of efforts made since 1950s. Capacity shortage inhibits faster growth of our economy. Our established transport networks are facing serious problems in meeting the requirement of growing economy.
One of the major costs of production and services is transportation cost. Our objective should be to bring down the cost to the minimum so that our economy can derive maximum benefit for growth.
When we chose a particular mode of transport in preference to other modes of transportation, the total cost it brings to the economy is relevant. The main two parameters for cost to economy being (a) Energy intensity factor and (b) Resource cost. As energy availability being on the downward trend, The energy intensity factor is more relevant at the same time resource cost is more comprehensive. As the cost of energy is increasing day by day, optimal use of the available energy is an important factor for economic growth.
For the bottlenecks in the existing transport network faced by our country, scope of Coastal Shipping can be seriously considered. India is blessed with very long coast line and we have to exploit this possibility for the best advantage of this cheapest mode of transportation. To consider Coastal Shipping as a means of transport to remove the difficulties faced in the existing transport system, we can view the potential of Coastal Shipping, in a country like India which is blessed with a very long coast line. We have to exploit Coastal Shipping to our country’s best advantage.
The hinterland for the Coastal trade comprises of 40 districts of five states on west and four on the East Coast and Pondicherry. It covers an area of 3,80,000 square kilometers, Lakshadweep and Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Arabian Sea and the Bay of Bengal respectively and also forms part of Coastal Hinterland. These islands covering an area of over 8250 sq. kms are essentially dependent on coastal shipping for movement of cargo and passengers between these islands and main land as well as inter-island movement.
There is rich concentration of iron ore in Goa, in the Ratnagiri district of Maharashtra, the North Kanara district of Karnataka, the Calicut district in Kerala, Angola district in Andhra Pradesh and Cuttack district of Orissa. Lime stone is abundantly available in the coastal districts of Gujarat, Maharashtra. Orissa have rich deposits of bauxite, the ore of Aluminum.
In view of the availability of rich minerals resources alone the coast, some of these districts are ideally suited for extractive industries. With growth of such industries there are potential for growth of coastal trade in big way.
At present, The Shipping Corporation of India Ltd., is maintaining passenger line service between mainland and Andaman as well as Lakshadweep. Further expansion of shipping services to cater to the needs of Andaman group of islands and Lakshadweep will give new perspective to the development of Coastal Shipping.
The Pradhan Committee on Coastal Shipping had observed that while the major ports such as Calcutta, Haldia , Tuticorin, Madras, Cochin, Kandla, etc. would provide the main infrastructure for handling of the projected coastal traffic, a more systematic and planned effort would have to be made for greater utilization available at minor ports. Such utilization would in turn lead to improvement in the infrastructure and the handling facilities available at these ports and thus lead to further generation of coastal traffic, which could be moved by deployment of handy-sized vessels for parcels of appropriate sizes. Now Indian coastlines are all set to witness a sea change. A series of policy announcement made by Government in the late nineties seems to be paying of as coastal cargo movement has started growing in full fledge.
Already a number of corporate like Reliance Industries, Ambuja Cements, Narmada Cements,Magdaila Shipbuilding Yard, Vipul Ship Yard, Larson & Toubro Ltd., Essar, Kribcho and NTPC (National Thermal Power Corporation) having their plants on the West Coast operating their own Jetties for their own cargo movement. Also a few more in the interiors are also expected to join the fray. As far as passenger traffic is concerned, it is concentrated, mainly between the mainland and Islands of Andaman, Nicobar and Lakshadweep. The growth in this traffic has been more or less steady. The ro-ro passenger service and the hover craft has been mooted since quite some time now, in pursuant to the idea mooted for introduction of ro-ro passenger service in this sector. An Indian Shipping Company has already introduced a Catamaran passenger service between Bombay & Goa from November, l994.
STEPS TO STRENGTHEN COASTAL SHIPPING
1. The Government having recognized that coastal shipping is a very energy efficient and comparatively cheaper mode of transport, which could greatly relieve the pressure on rail and road transport, set up a working group in August 1992 under the Chairmanship of the Director General of Shipping consisting of members from different Ministries / organizations to study the issues connected with the development of Coastal Shipping.
2. Out of the Working Committees 12 recommendations, 11 have been accepted by the Ministry. Some of the recommendations pertain to the Ministry of Finance, one recommendation pertains to the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas and another recommendation concerns to the State Governments and Planning Commission. The Directorate General of Shipping has already taken up these issues with the Ministry of Surface Transport with a request to take up this recommendation with the concerned Ministry/Department for expeditious implementation.So far as the Director General of Shipping is concerned, recommendation No.8 pertains to the manning scale applicable to the Coastal Shipping for which action has already been initiated to amend Section 76 of the Merchant Shipping Act, l958.
Guiders Education asks its students to do a project on the above subject so that the students has a hands on experience in this particular aspect.The students have to visit one of the companies involved in Coastal shipping and get a detailed information on their activities and present the project in the classroom.