Minister for Ports K. Babu said here on Tuesday that the government proposed to expedite the Coastal Shipping Project.
The project envisages diversion of 20 per cent of the goods traffic through roads to coastal shipping by developing ports and operating small ships. It is hoped that the congestion on the roads of Kochi and other cities and towns along the coast could be reduced by diverting the traffic.
The Minister noted that about 2,000 trucks reached the State from other States with goods, and traffic through the Kochi port had gone up by 12.52 per cent last year (from 47.98 lakh tonne to 55.48 lakh tonne). Costal cargo traffic from Kochi had gone up by 15.63 per cent while traffic to foreign countries increased by 11.08 per cent.
He said the State now had 17 small and minor ports besides the major port of Kochi. Work on Vizhinjam port was expected to start next year. It was expected that these ports could contribute substantially to coastal shipping and aid growth in the agriculture, industrial and trade sectors. The inland waterways would also be able to make considerable contributions to goods traffic.
Mr. Babu said that diversion of the traffic through the coastal seas and waterways would help to reduce costs and thus the price of goods. It would also help to reduce pollution and accidents arising from transport of hazardous goods through roads.
Considering the increase in job opportunities with the development of the ports, the government had already started a maritime institute at Neendakara. Another was planned for Kodungalloor. Steps had also been taken to set up a ship design institute at Beypore, the Minister said.
Keywords: Vizhinjam port