According to a source-based information, union shipping ministry may not rush to relax cabotage laws for other ports in the country.
This follows the demand from different ports, including JN Port and Vishakhapatnam for similar relaxations. The ministry may first study the impact of relaxation of the laws for international container transhipment terminal (ICTT) at Vallarpadam Kochi before relaxing it in other ports.
The Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 reserves Indian coastal trade for Indian flag vessels through cabotage regulations.
But, earlier this year, the Union Cabinet relaxed the cabotage rules for ICTT, operated by DPW, for a period of three years.
DPW, the fourth largest container terminal operator globally by volumes, has a presence in JN Port, Mundra, Chennai, Kochi, and Visakhapatnam.
According to the relaxation, foreign flagged vessels can offer feeder services to pick and drop domestic containerised cargo between Kochi and other ports.
However, the cabotage relaxation is conditional. The Defence Ministry wants all containers being transhipped to be scanned. Following a request from the Kochi port, the Shipping Ministry has now asked the Defence Ministry to “favourably consider” this issue.