Thiruvananthapuram: As part of its ambitious programme to encourage coastal shipping, the State government has decided to buy four high speed catamarans to start passenger services and sanctioned Rs 3 crore to form the Coastal Shipping Promotion Fund to extend financial aid to operators.
Speaking to reporters here, state's Minister for Ports and Fisheries K Babu said the Ports department has been given sanction to buy the catamarans at a total cost of Rs 60 crore.
He said there are plans to start ferry services between Thiruvananthapuram and Kozhikode through the marine highway of the state.
The minister said Rs three crore has been sanctioned to form the Coastal Shipping Promotion Fund, meant to extend financial assistance to operators, he said.
"The Fund is part of the government's plan to encourage coastal shipping in Kerala. The State has also drawn up an incentive system to promote coastal shipping," he said.
Operators would get incentives, while shipper would get discounts in port charges, he said.
Government through its three-pronged strategy of modern infrastructure, incentives and institution building, plans to divert at least 20 per cent of cargo through coastal shipping by 2015 and 40 per cent by 2020.
Coastal traffic potential through non major ports of the state is estimated to be 4.64 million during 2012-14 and seven million by 2019-2020.