The connectivity between major Indian ports in the East and West coasts linking ICTT Vallarpadam has become a reality with the starting of a coastal container service.
Shreyas Shipping Service introduced a bi-weekly service called Pan India Express by deploying a 1700 teu vessel connecting all the major East Coast ports to ICTT.
The company had already started a regular service to ICTT from all the West Coast ports.
A senior port official told Business Line that connectivity to other Indian ports from ICTT was highlighted as a critical shortcoming in the emergence of ICTT as a hub transhipment port for India.
This is because the nascent Indian coastal container shipping with the presence of 11 operational vessels were not providing sufficient linkage to the ICTT, prompting the Shipping Ministry to extend Cabotage waiver to the terminal in December last year, he said.
However, this is the first time East Coast ports from Kolkata and West Coast ports to Mundra are connected by transhipping at Vallarpadam by this new service.
The vessel OEL Victory had berthed at the terminal with containers from Kolkata, Visakhapatnam and Chennai ports recently.
Shreyas also operates a separate service connecting ICTT to Tuticorin Port and back, making a double dip at ICTT to carry exports from Tuticorin and tranship them on a mainline from Kochi as well as tranship cashew import containers from Africa to Tuticorin.
Earlier, ports on the East Coast were only connected to international ports such as Port Klang, Singapore and Colombo. However, with the introduction of this new coastal service, these ports are now connected between themselves, providing an opportunity to develop domestic business as well as facilities for transhipment of exim containers using the Vallarpadam terminal.
With the connectivity established between Vallarpadam and other Indian ports on both the coasts, mainliners will now find it viable to meet their transhipment needs from the Indian subcontinent.
This new service would also enable the trade to move containers by the sea mode at more economical rates than by road, thereby reducing congestion and saving fuel, he said.
Last year, Colombo Port handled 43 lakh teus and transhipment constituted 32.17 lakh teus. Of this, transhipment from India was 20.9 lakh teus, comprising 10.45 lakh teus from South India, mainly from Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Tuticorin.
Given this scenario, the official said the new service would make available more South India containers to Vallarpadam.