The Ministry is aiming to raise cargo and passenger movement through waterways from the current five per cent to 30 per cent in the next 15 years. This means that there will be demand for more coastal ships, barges and passenger vessels, which would offer more opportunities to local shipyards.
According to industry experts, the government initiatives like Jal Vikas Marg and Sagarmala projects will enhance transportation through inland waterways considering the recent approval for the development of 101 waterways across the country.
The emerging situation will demand huge requirement of dredgers and harbour crafts to improve infrastructure. Apart from this, the experts said, the country needs more ships and ports to handle liquid and gas cargoes. The oil exploration will move to deep water and the requirement for offshore support service will boost shipbuilding in the coming years.
Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari also wants inclusion of maritime sector in the Make in India campaign to create more job opportunities. The Minister, who was in Kochi recently, called upon the public sector Cochin Shipyard to increase its capacity and to set up ship repair facilities in other ports.
This will not only boost production but help in setting up more ancillary units for making spare parts. According to him, the country is now depending on European markets to meet the requirements.
Referring to Indian shipbuilding scenario, Ajith Sukumaran, Principal Officer-cum-Jt Director General of Shipping of Mercantile Marine Department, Kochi said that the period between 2004 to 2008 had been the golden era for the industry.
Almost all yards were flooded with orders with foreign firms waiting in queue with joint venture offers including the government support with 30 per cent subsidy. However, the bubble bursts following the 2008 global recession leading many shipyards in the country to bankruptcy.
Today less than 10 per cent of our cargo is carried by Indian flagships and below three per cent of our foreign going merchant ships are built in India. Majority of Indian ships proceed to foreign dry docks for periodical repairs thereby reducing the stake of Indian shipyards in the global shipbuilding to an abysmal 0.3 per cent, he said.