The government is all set to relax cabotage norms that restrict coastal shipping between Indian ports to locally-registered shipping lines, union minister of shipping and road transport Nitin Gadkari said today.
Gadkari said an announcement on relaxation of cabotage rules, which will allow foreign flagged vessels to handle cargo between two domestic ports, can be expected in a fortnight.
Gadkari was speaking at the launch of the website for Maritime India Summit 2016 www.maritimeinvest.in at the Ports and Shipping seminar at `Make in India (MII) Summit today.
"We need to only take the approval of the prime minister. And we will release the order as early as possible ...Within 15 days," Gadkari said.
The cabotage policy in India gives preference to Indian flagships over foreign vessels in handling of cargo. Foreign ships are allowed only when no suitable Indian flag vessel is available for movement of cargo.
Indian importers and exporters use Colombo, Salalah (Oman), Singapore and Dubai hubs for shipments, adding to their costs.
At present, about 60 per cent of India's exports and import containers are transshipped through ports like Singapore and Colombo. This transshipment through ports outside the country involves not only huge expenditure but also extra 7-10 days of transit time.
India has 12 major ports which fall under the centre's jurisdiction and about 200 non-major ports under the control of states.
The Maritime India Summit is scheduled to be held in Mumbai in April this year. The user friendly website launched today will facilitate investors and participants to access detailed information about the summit, including registrations.
Launching the website Gadkari said, ''A strong maritime sector will create economic growth and jobs. Realising this potential is duty towards the nation. I am committed to bring the sector into focus; to achieve our goal of port led economic development.''
MIS 2016 will comprise of an Investors' Summit on 14–15 April 2016, along with exhibition and demo sessions spread over three days.
The Republic of Korea is the partner country for the MIS 2016 and will be represented by a high level ministerial and business delegation. More than 50 other maritime nations have also been invited to attend the summit.