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i-maritime News Service

Pakistan keen to revive coastal routes to India - 2013-07-13

Is Pakistan keen to revive the coastal routes to India? So it seems, if the reports in Pakistani media are any indication. Pakistan is toying with the idea of launching ferry services between Karachi and Gujarat/Mumbai on one hand and Karachi and Dubai on the other, the country’s Ports & Shipping Minister Senator Kamran Michael was quoted as saying in Pakistani newspapers.

The high-level committee which has been constituted to examine the feasibility of such services, is expected to firm up its findings shortly, it has been reported.

Interestingly, Pakistan, according to the Minister, is also keen to strengthen its maritime ties with Sri Lanka and has decided to hand over 10 of its vessels, three oil tankers and seven bulk carriers, to Sri Lanka for operations. An agreement on this between the two countries is to be signed shortly. The Minister pointed out that Pakistan faces stiff competition from the ship-breaking industries of India and Bangladesh; as a result, the Gadani demolition yard is virtually languishing. A committee has been formed to suggest ways to face the competition and revive the sector.

Gwadar port, which has been handed over to China, has been causing much concern to India, and is yet to take off fully. Only three berths are functional so far. The work on the remaining berths has been halted as the Chinese construction team has withdrawn.

Also, maintaining depth has been a matter of concern, with Pakistan Government having decided to provide Rs 1 billion for fresh dredging. The Minister has tried to allay the fear expressed by many that a vast tract of land adjacent to the port has been handed over to China on ownership basis. The land has been given on lease to facilitate port operations, the Minister wasquoted as saying.

There is, however, a proposal to give marketing rights of the port, if needed, to China, subject to certain modifications of the existing agreement. Meanwhile, the Netherlands is believed to have shown interest in developing a fishing harbour at Gwadar.

Source: The Hindu Business Line