India’s Department of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) has pledged to provide 30% financial support to promote green shipping and develop a single-window portal to facilitate and monitor river and sea cruises. This announcement was made by Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Sarbananda Sonowal, at the end of the ministry’s second Chintan Shibir in Munnar, Kerala. He also revealed plans to develop Deendayal Port and VO Chidambaranar Port in Tuticorin into green hydrogen hubs and to have Jawaharlal Nehru Port and VO Chidambaranar Port become smart ports by next year.
The MoPSW launched the Chintan Shivir (brainstorming camp) in Munnar, Kerala, to discuss and set goals for shaping India Atmanirbhar in the maritime sphere. On the second day of the camp, discussions focused on improving port management, standardisation and cargo handling rates in major ports. Initiatives were also discussed for improving cargo, Vessel Operating Grant Fund (VGF) and Public Private Partnership (PPP) modes in inland and coastal shipping. Sonowal claimed the coastal shipping promotion initiatives and development of coastal berth infrastructure under the Sagarmala programme resulted in a significant increase in coastal shipping cargo traffic, increasing to 151 million tonnes per year (MMTPA) in 2022-23.
The department will review progress toward these targets in a mid-year Chintan Shivir in a few months, and strict action could be taken in case of a delay in the completion of these projects. The camp concluded by discussing good governance, work culture and leadership. The MoPSW’s plans will further incentivise Indian shipping companies, which have already been supported by the government’s amended Indian Merchant Shipping Act (1995) and its Maritime India Vision 2030 plan to increase the fleet of Indian-controlled ships to 2.9 million GT by 2025.
The government of India has been working in recent years on ways to boost the domestic shipping industry by reducing dependency on overseas ships to meet its maritime transport needs. In this regard, the Indian government has been promoting and funding the growth of Indian-controlled ships. In August 2020, the Indian government also approved a $2.4bn project to modernise the country’s major ports to improve functional efficiency and competitiveness. The project’s main aim is to encourage these ports to become more autonomous and efficient in managing their operations.