Vallarpadam to get cabotage waiver soon
T Ramavarman | Sep 19, 2011, 03.10AM IST
KOCHI: The International Container Transshipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam is likely to get the much-awaited cabotage law waiver within a month, shipping secretary K Mohandas told TOI here on Sunday.
Cabotage law bans foreign ships from operating as feeder vessels for international transshipment containers cargo
from Indian ports, and this was being perceived as a major roadblock in the growth of ICTT, which was opened early this year. The law was reportedly dissuading many foreign mainline vessels from calling on Vallarpadam. Instead, they were opting for the transshipment terminal in Colombo as they could use foreign feeder vessels for reaching the taking transhipment containers even to Indian ports from there.
"We had identified two prerequisites for the growth of Vallarpadam: reduction of port charges to the levels prevailing in Colombo and the waiver of cabotage law. Earlier, the Cochin Port had decided to bring port charges on par with rates in Colombo. Vallarpadam will also be able to attract more business once the cabotage law is amended as it will permit foreign feeder vessels to transship cargo from here to other ports," Mohandas said.
According to him, other Indian ports receiving international transshipment containers are also likely to be granted similar cabotage waivers. "We expect ports like Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Mumbai also to evolve into international transshipment terminals in future," Mohandas said. The shipping secretary, however, made it clear that the centre was committed to giving protection to Indian vessels. "Even countries like the US, Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia are giving protection to domestic shipping industry. Steps like reserving energy-related cargo, including oil and coal, for Indian ships are being considered for this. However, India is also keen to attract more mainline vessels to its ports to enhance business. That is why we are trying to give cabotage waiver to international transshipment cargo coming to Indian ports. The Cochin Port also has a locational advantage in this because of its close proximity to the international sea route."
Earlier, speaking after laying the foundation stone for Indian Maritime University's Kochi campus, chief minister Oommen Chandy had said cabotage law was threatening the very survival of ICTT. He had also requested the central government to take an early decision on giving cabotage waiver to ICTT.