K. Babu details State's shipping project

The government is working on a plan to develop coastal shipping into a vibrant economic activity in the State, Minister for Ports K. Babu has said.

In a communication issued by his office on Saturday, Mr. Babu said the State had a great potential for coastal shipping.

The State had one major port in Kochi and 17 minor ports and its coast was close to the international shipping route. So, the State's ports can play a vital role in the nation's overall shipping activity. Goods movement through the Kochi port increased by 12.52 per cent (over the previous year's figure) to touch 174.29 lakh tons. International cargo traffic increased by 11.08 per cent and cargo traffic within the country by 15.63 per cent through this port this year.

This trend indicated the emerging significance of shipping in Kerala. If the State could develop the minor ports and link them using by small cargo vessels, it could indeed grow into a vibrant economic activity.

The State also had a network of inland waterways, over 1,647 km in length. These waterways connected all the industrial and commercial centres in the State. A major portion of the cargo movement now happening along the roads could be routed along the waterways if the waterways could be developed and maintained.

The coastal shipping project the government was drawing up would target, in the first stage, the diversion of at least 20 per cent of the total cargo movement now happening along the State's roads through the waterways.