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Kochi, Sep 14 (IANS) Giving further fillip to the maritime industry in Kerala, the central government Friday cleared Cochin Shipyard Ltd's Rs.750 crore project to set up a ship repair unit, union Minister for Shipping G.K. Vasan said here Friday.
He also said the Cochin Port Trust was one of the five major ports identified for development as hubs for cruise tourisml; the lighthouses at Kadalur Point and Vizhinjam had been selected for development as tourist centres.
Delivering the inaugural address at the sectoral session on Ports, Shipbuilding and Logistics at the Emerging Kerala-2012-Global Connect conference here, Vasan said: "The centre has sanctioned Rs.750 crore ship repair unit proposal of Cochin Shipyard. The project was sanctioned yesterday (Friday)."
The ship repair facility will be set up at Cochin Port Trust.
He said the primary focus in the port sector is to create adequate capacity, bring in operational efficiency, increase India's tonnage, promoting coastal shipping, facilitate multi model transport systems, promote shipbuilding and other related aspects.
According to him, the public-private-partnership (PPP) mode of project implementation has been successfully adopted and the shipping ministry had since 2009-10 awarded 25 PPP projects with an total investment of Rs.14,000 crore.
"This year also, 42 projects have been taken up for implementation in the ports sector at the cost of around Rs.15,000 crore out of which 29 are PPP projects," Vasan said.
He said Kerala with its 600 km coastline had huge advantages in terms of potential for development of an effective waterways transport system.
Declaring that the central government was supportive of Kerala in the maritime sector, Vasan said the government had invested more than Rs.1,700 crore for establishing road and rail connectivity for the International Container Transhipment Terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam and in the capital dredging component of the project. There was also an investment of about Rs.2,200 crore by the private concessionaire.
Referring to the central government's decision to waive the cabotage for the ICTT for a period of three years, Vasan said Cochin Port Trust officials had told him they would double traffic next year and touch one million TEU (twenty feet equivalent units) in two years.
Vasan said the Kerala government's proposal to set up a major port at Azhikal was under active consideration of the shipping ministry and the report of the technical committee to study its feasibility was under examination.
He also assured support to Kerala's plans to develop a deep sea port at Vizhinjam.
Citing poor cargo movement through coastal shipping and congestion in the land transport system, Vasan urged Kerala to divert cargo to its non-major ports by utilising coastal and inland waterways.
Vasan said the Inland Waterways Authority of India had developed several terminals on the National Waterway 3 (between Kollam to Kottapuram and between Champakara and Udyogmandal) to facilitate proper utilisation.