Coastal shipping has become a significant factor in India’s maritime trade and development, with major ports handling a record-breaking 795 million tonnes of cargo in FY23. The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has been working to unlock the full potential of India’s coastline, and the government is driving initiatives to enhance competitiveness in domestic and international trade while prioritizing sustainability. These initiatives include subsidies for coastal and inland water movement, green-channel clearance of coastal cargo, relaxation of cabotage rules, and promotion of the use of barges.
One key initiative is encouraging greater private sector participation through public-private partnerships. As the government grants infrastructure status to coastal shipping, private entities will become eligible for concessions and funding, optimizing India’s multimodal connectivity and simplifying coastal shipping operations. The government is also identifying coastal shipping initiatives that engage diverse stakeholders and optimize passenger and freight movements along the coasts, aligning with the Maritime India Vision 2030 roadmap.
Multi-modal logistics parks (MMLPs) play a crucial role in realizing the government’s vision for coastal shipping. MMLPs offer efficiency, economies of scale, lower warehousing costs, and reduced carbon footprint. They can catalyze domestic manufacturing and enhance last-mile and first-mile connectivity. The Sagarmala Programme integrates coastal shipping with road and rail networks, emphasizing last-mile connectivity infrastructure and the establishment of MMLPs near ports. India’s interconnected network of inland waterways is also leveraged through multi-modal hubs, further boosting trade and transport.
In order to prioritize sustainability, the government has set forth sustainability guidelines through the Harit Sagar policy. These guidelines promote waste reduction, emissions reduction, and measurable action plans for major ports. By fully utilizing the potential of MMLPs and improving public-private partnerships, India can unlock the advantages of coastal shipping, increase export capacity, and drive GDP growth.
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