Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari said the Centre was keen on raising the quantum of cargo transported through waterways in the country.
Dedicating the ships Lakshadweep MV Corals and Lakshadweep Warf to the nation in Kochi, he pointed out in China 44 per cent of transportation is done through waterways, while in India it is only 3.3 per cent. Inland navigation has great potential in Kerala and Lakshadweep, which also can create good job opportunities, he said.
“The Union government will study problems being faced by the Cochin Port. I know the Cochin Shipyard has great potential. We are very much committed for its progress and development. We don’t want to mix politics with development. Our Prime Minister had been making this clear from the beginning. Progress and development are the fundamental rights of the people. Our industries need to be more cost-effective by adopting modern technologies in order to compete globally,” Gadkari said.
MV Corals is an all-weather ship having the capacity to carry 400 passengers and was built by Colombo Dockyard PLC, Sri Lanka, for $ 29,260,000. The ship has 10 first class cabin-berths, 40 second class cabin-berths and 350 bunk class berths. The designed speed of both ships is 15 knots and it will be operated on the routes between Kochi and Lakshadweep islands. The ship made its maiden voyage from Kochi to Lakshadweep islands on December 8, 2014.
A sister ship, MV Lagoons, which is under construction at Colombo Dockyard, with the same specifications, is expected to be inducted by February. These two ships, along with the existing fleet of Lakshadweep administration, will remove the conveyance problems between the mainland and Lakshadweep islands, especially during monsoon.
The dedicated wharf for Lakshadweep was constructed at Cochin Port Trust for berthing of all ships and vessels of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep due to non-availability of sufficient berthing facilities and the passenger terminal facility at Kochi.
The wharf was constructed by the Cochin Port Trust for a total Rs 37.52 crore from the Plan funds provided by the Lakshadweep administration.
The wharf has a total length of 300 metres along with passenger terminal facilities and security arrangements for safe embarkation and disembarkation of passengers at Kochi. The wharf will also add to overall capacity of the Cochin Port to handle passenger ships.