Major ports in India to offer 80% discount on coastal transport of vehicles using Ro-Ro carriers

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 22 Sep 2016

Mundra Port is a major economic gateway that caters to the landlocked northern hinterland of India with multimodal connectivity.

In a move that should interest automobile manufacturers in the country and also give a fillip to coastal transportation of vehicles in India, the government has doubled the discount on Ro-Ro (Roll-On/Roll-Off) carriers or ships.

Ro-Ro carriers are ideal to transport wheeled cargo like passenger cars and trucks which can be driven on and off the vessel using their own power or self-propelled modular transporters.

In order to promote transportation of automobiles through the coastal shipping route, the Ministry of Shipping has said that all major ports in the country will provide a discount of 80 percent for two years on Vessel Related Charges (VRC) and Coastal Related Charges (CRC) for coastal transportation of vehicles through Ro-Ro ships. This discount is also extended to other similar ships such as Ro-Pax, PCC, PCTC and PTC. An order to this effect has been issued on  September 20, 2016. To make this discount sustainable for shipping service providers, the major ports will also carry out intensive marketing for demand generation.

As per the earlier scheme, coastal vessels including Ro-Ro vessels used to get a discount of 40 percent over that of the foreign going vessels. With the increase in discount to 80 percent, it is expected that the shipping service providers will be able to attract more automobile cargo through the coastal route and decongest already congested roads and railways and also make the Ro-Ro ship service operations more sustainable.

Substantial savings to be had

It is understood that while inland water transport typically costs around 60 paise a kilometre, transportation by rail costs Rs 1 per kilometre and Rs 1.50 by road. As per a RITES report on ‘Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid (INWTG)’, the use of inland water transport compared to conventional rail and road transportation are that one litre of fuel moves 24 tonne-km on road, 95 tonne-km on rail and 215 tonne-km on inland water transport. Also, the cost of developing waterways is much lower than rail or road. 

Coastal transportation of vehicles will also help unclog arterial roads in the country. Inland water transport is recognised the world over as a cost effective, fuel efficient, environment-friendly and safe mode of transport especially for hazardous goods and over-dimensional cargo.

Maruti Suzuki India and the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) had earlier this year signed a Memorandum of Understanding for transportation of cars on a pilot basis through inland waterways. On August 12, the first pilot shipment of 200 Maruti cars was shipped from Varanasi to Kolkata on National Waterway-1 (River Ganga).  

German firm to design ships suited to navigate National Waterway 1

Meanwhile, in its effort to promote coastal transportation through National Waterway-1 (NW-1), the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI), Ministry of Shipping has signed a contract with M/s DST of Germany to design vessels suited to navigate the 1,620km stretch of NW-1.

A senior IWAI official said it is a revolutionary step and a milestone in the journey of NW-1. “The objective of IWAI is to go along with nature and disturb the river minimally. The specially designed vessels will navigate on low drafts and will be of high carrying capacity and, most importantly, will be environment friendly,” he said.

Considering the expected growth of the inland waterways sector in India, DST, Germany is expected to develop a combination of standardised vessels to meet the requirement of various types of cargo. One of the most important navigational challenges for NW-1 is the kind of vessels that will play on the Ganga-Bhagirathi-Hooghly stretch. Keeping in view the difficult hydro-morphological characteristics of the river in the upper reaches between Patna and Varanasi, it is important to have vessels which can ply on low draft, with high carrying capacity, and are economically viable and environment friendly.

Keeping in view the demand for transportation of cars through NW-1, DST Germany has been initially tasked to develop low draft vessels that can carry up to 150-200 vehicles. The government is developing NW-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project, with assistance from the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs 4,200 crore. The project would enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1500-2,000 tons. Phase-I of the project covers the Haldia-Varanasi stretch. The project includes development of fairway, multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia and Sahibganj, strengthening of the river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System (RIS), Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking, and construction of a new state- of-the-art navigational lock at Farakka.

Read more: Shipping Ministry seeks 5% of Central Road Fund for development of waterways

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