Saturday, February 20, 2016


Sometimes important events happen without fanfare. While we all focus on the JNU controversy, a ship loaded with 800 cars left Madras and arrived at Kandla in Gujarat to deliver its cargo. While this might not seem a big deal, you will be shocked to know that this is a first for India. This kind of shipping within country is called Trans shipment and is one of the most cost effective ways of transporting large quantities of goods without choking highways and with the least amount of fuel. The laws that govern this are called cabotage laws, and these were so restrictive that trans shipment was not happening in India. Nitin Gadkari has pulled this off by changing the laws.If this process is continued, we can decongest our railroads and highways in a big way and spend less fuel per kg per km on freight traffic.

YR Raghavan   =============================   Cars from Chennai take the coastal route to Gujarat; Hyundai takes lead

Cars parked at the Chennai port wharf waiting to be loaded onto the ro-ro vessel IDM Symex, on Friday
Cars parked at the Chennai port wharf waiting to be loaded onto the ro-ro vessel IDM Symex, on Friday
Marking a first, car-makers are taking the coastal route to move vehicles across the country. On Friday, new vehicles heading to Pipavav in Gujarat were loaded on to a roll-on/roll-off vessel IDM Symex at the Chennai port.
This is a major boost to the Centre’s initiative to promote coastal shipping to reduce carbon footprint and congestion on the road.
The Shipping Ministry had even recommended to the Finance Ministry to provide an incentive of ₹3,000 per car to manufacturers using coastal shipping. However, a decision is pending, said sources.
The ro-ro vessel belonging to Singapore-based Symex Maritime Inc will load 800 Hyundai cars through the night and is expected to leave early morning direct to Pipavav, Gujarat, with a sailing time of six days, said Binu Joshua Thomas, Director, Link Shipping, which represents Symex in India.
“This is the first time in the country that cars are being transported through coastal shipping. We have been moving trucks from New Mangalore to Hazira,” he told BusinessLine.
To begin with, the direct ro-ro service will be fortnightly. Around 2,000 cars can be transported in a single voyage. The Hyundai cars arrived at the Chennai port from the company’s Sriperumbudur plant by road through trailers. “In the return voyage, we are talking to manufacturers to move their vehicles to southern destinations,” he said. The foreign flag vessel has been permitted by the DG Shipping to do coastal run in Indian waters for the next five years, he said.
Cost benefit

Thomas said moving cars by coastal shipping would be 25 to 30 per cent cheaper when compared to road. It is pollution free, as nearly 100 car trailers would be off the road. Each trailer can carry seven or eight cars and freight is ₹1.5 lakh per trailer from Chennai to Pipavav, he said.
Chennai Port Trust sources said that to boost coastal shipping, the wharfage for ro-ro vessels using coastal shipping will be 60 per cent of the usual tariff. A charge of ₹500 per car (for small vehicle) and ₹2,000 for large vehicles needs to be paid to the port.

According to government estimates, a diversion of 5 per cent of cargo transportation to a waterborne mode can result in an annual saving of ₹2,000 crore and a reduction of 6 per cent in harmful chemicals and pollutants.
Despite having a coastline of 7,517 km, the share of coastal shipping in India is only around 15 per cent of the local freight as against 43 per cent in the European Union.
Commodities carried by coastal shipping include thermal coal, crude oil, iron ore and cement, and this has not changed over the years.
Some of the prominent coastal shipping routes are Chennai to Chittagong/Yangon through Haldia/Kolkata; south bound cargo from Pipavav/Mundra to Kochi; coal from Kolkata to Kandla and Bhavnagar, and inland and coastal movement in and around Goa.


  1. well that's the way to go. Congrats to all involved. Mt only question is why a Singapore based vessel being used. Why not an Indian vessel.

    1. We speak many things like "Make in India" but fail to use our own resources for services like this. Truly the SCI can step in with hired ships for this role if it lacks in merchant ships.