The Central Government of India has decided to relax cabotage for special vessels such as Roll-On Roll-Off (Ro-Ro), Hybrid Roll-On Roll-Off (Hybrid Ro-Ro), Roll-On Roll-Off cum Passenger (Ro-Pax), Pure Car Carriers, Pure Car and Truck Carriers, LNG vessels and Over-Dimensional cargo or Project Cargo Carriers for a period of five years.
With this relaxation, vessel operators will be allowed to bring foreign flagged vessels of this category to ply on the coastal routes. 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 availability of Ro-Ro vessels is essential for the success of efforts to develop coastal shipping and decongesting roads and railways. As an example, large automobile clusters exist at Manesar and around Chennai. Large numbers of cars are transported from north to south and vice-versa. It is possible to shift major part of this transportation to coastal shipping.
Not only would availability of Ro-Ro vessels decongest roads/railways, it would also enable a green mode of transport reducing fuel intensity and also reduce carbon emissions.