Chief Minister Oommen Chandy launched the Coastal Shipping Project (CSP) at the Kollam Port on Saturday. The container ship OEL Victory was given the green signal to unload a consignment of floor tiles and marble slabs brought in 25 containers, to mark the inaugural.
In his address, the Chief Minister said passenger ships would start operating from the Kollam Port this year.
He said water resources should be tapped for freight and passenger movement to hasten development of the State.
“As of now, we have not tapped even 5 per cent of the State’s potential,” he said.
He said the Kollam-Kottapuram National Waterway-3 would be commissioned on January 1. Work on a small portion of the waterway at Chavara remained to be completed. The State government had agreed to meet the expenditure so as to enable the commissioning of the waterway at the earliest.
He said the seaplane project of the State had not taken off due to opposition from the fishing community. At places where there is no such opposition; the services will take off soon.
The Chief Minister said environment clearance for the Vizhijam International Port was expected soon. The tender formalities would be speeded up after getting the clearance. The Centre had in principle cleared the project to construct a port at Azhikkal in Kannur district. A master plan to build 10 small ports in the State is under preparation.
Presiding over the function, Minister for Ports K. Babu said the CSP was a dream project of the State. Kerala is the first State in the country to offer a subsidy for freight transport through the CSP, he said.
The subsidy is Re.1 for a consignment of one tonne for a distance of 1 km.
The Kollam Port will be further developed under the public-private partnership programme. In order to encourage building of ships suitable for coastal shipping services and for promotion of coastal shipping, the government had constituted the Coastal Shipping Promotion Fund and allocated Rs. 3 crore, he said.
N. Peethambara Kurup, MP, delivered the keynote address. Ports Director Jacob Thomas; Kollam Bishop Stanley Roman; Customs Commissioner Sreedhar Reddy; District Collector B. Mohanan; chairman of the Kollam Development Authority A.K. Hafeez; Port Officer Ashwini Prathap; and councillor George D. Kattil spoke..