Port Wings News Network:
Ministry of Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, under its Sagarmala Programme, has pushed a number of reforms and initiatives in the maritime industry to strengthen the country’s socio-economic and regulatory environment. One of the key initiatives of the Ministry is to promote and develop Ro-Ro (Roll-on, Roll-off) ferry transportation ecosystem which when compared to traditional modes of transportation, offers a number of advantages, such as shorter trip distances, lower logistics cost and less pollution.
Under the ambit of Sagarmala, Ministry has operationalized Ro-Pax Ferry service between Ghogha – Hazira in Gujarat and Mumbai – Mandwa in Maharashtra. These services have transported more than 24.15 lakh passengers and 4.58 lakh cars and 36.3 thousand trucks, contributing towards clean environment and public welfare.
In order to standardize and streamline the development and operation of the services, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways had prepared and circulated ‘Draft Guidelines for operationalization of Ro-Ro and Ro-Pax ferry service along the coast of India’ in June 2022 for stakeholder consultation.
In view of suggestions received from public and private stakeholders and with a vision to set up world-class infrastructure and services all along the coastline, Ministry has now constituted a High Level Committee under the Chairman, Deendayal Port Authority for drafting revised Guidelines for operationalization of Ro-Ro and Ro-Pax ferry service. The Committee would simultaneously draft Model Concession Agreement for Ro-Ro / Ro-Pax Terminal Operator and Model License Agreement for Operation of Ro-Ro/ Ro-Pax/ Fast Passenger Ferry.
The Committee shall delve into the ground realities such as safety standards of vessels, control mechanism on excess boarding of passengers/cargo, online ticketing system, revenue accounting/ sharing mechanism, statutory clearances, exclusivity periods, inclusion of new & emerging technologies to prepare structured document which will eliminate unnecessary delays, disagreements facilitate the smooth and safe operation of the Ro-Ro/Ro-Pax ferry service. These would also enhance the ease of doing business by instilling confidence among all stakeholders attracting more domestic and international businesses to invest and do business in the country.
In the Union Budget 2023-24, it was proposed that Coastal shipping will be promoted as the energy efficient and lower cost mode of transport, both for passengers and freight, through PPP mode with viability gap funding which is in line with country’s focus on Green Growth.
While underlining the importance of this step the Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Shri Sarbananda Sonowal said, “The proposed committee will formulate and streamline the future Roadmap of Ro-Pax Ferry development in the Country and implement the vision of our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modiji, of harnessing the waterways and integrating them with the economic development of the country”.
Under the Sagarmala programme, the Ministry is financially supporting 51 projects worth ~Rs. 1,900 Crore to boost the urban water transportation services in India, of which, 10 projects worth ~Rs. 500 Crore have already been completed.