India easing law to allow foreign cargo ships between its ports
"With this relaxation, vessel operators will be allowed to bring foreign flagged vessels of this category to ply on the coastal routes," the shipping ministry said in a statement.
Prior to this move, it was essential under the cabotage law to use Indian ships for carriage of goods between local routes, and foreign ships could be allowed to operate only when domestic vessels were not available.
"Such special vessels are in short supply in the country but since they cater to specific class of cargo, their availability will make it possible to shift cargo movement for these commodities from road and rail to coastal shipping," the statement said.
The availability of Ro-Ro vessels, designed to carry wheeled cargo like automobiles and trucks, is "essential" to develop coastal shipping and decongest roads and railways, it said.
It would also enable a green mode of transport reducing fuel intensity and reduce carbon emissions.
Cabotage restrictions are in place in many countries to insulate domestic shipping industry from foreign competition as well as for the purpose of national security. ■