Mumbai: Water taxis to Navi Mum, more ro-ro ferries, harbour cruises likely in a year

Water taxis to Navi Mumbai and a few other destinations to the city’s southeast, roll on-roll off ferry services to JNPT, Mandwa and Kashid, and harbour cruises for tourists could start in a year, the Mumbai Port Trust has said.

MbPT has signed as many as 13 MoUs worth Rs 7,500 crore on developing water transport ahead of the three-day Virtual Maritime India Summit slated to be addressed by PM Narendra Modi on March 2. JNPT has signed over 30 Mo-Us worth Rs 27,000 crore for its SEZ as well as port expansion. With MbPT expecting to ink deals on infrastructure worth another Rs 12,000 crore, around Rs 47,000 crore of the Rs 1.3 lakh crore investments being sought for ports across India could be coming Mumbai’s way.

The water taxis, with a capacity of 20-50 passengers, will ply most likely from Ferry Wharf to Vashi, Nerul, Belapur, Nhava, Karanja, Rewas and Dharamtar at an average tariff of Rs 200-500 per person. The harbour cruises will offer facilities like food and games. MbPT chairman Rajeev Jalota said these projects can be running in a year’s time. One of the MoUs was with Cordelia Cruises run by Waterways Leisure Tourism, which plans to invest Rs 3,000 crore to buy ships and ferry tourists around the country and even outside, he added.

The Ro-Ro services planned, on the lines of the successful service to Alibaug, include one from the port on the Mumbai mainland to JNPT, the country’s largest container port, located across the harbour. It will ease movement of heavy vehicles between the two, said Jalota, and cut traffic and pollution in the city.

The summit, held every five years, will include Afghanistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, Iran and Armenia and also discuss opportunities on the strategic Chabahar port that India is helping develop in Iran.

JNPT chairman Sanjay Sethi said prominent companies have signed MoUs to set up facilities ranging from manufacturing, IT, warehousing/cold storage, free trade warehousing zone, pharma, engineering to confectionary and food processing in the JNPT SEZ. There will be special emphasis in the summit on developing deep-draft ports that can take in big vessels for more trade.

For MbPT, besides citizen facing projects like the ferry services, a 300-yacht marina, a ropeway to Elephanta, and floating restaurants, Jalota said a bulk of the investments will be coming from oil companies looking to set up crude landing, bunkering, pipelines and other allied infrastructure. HPCL and BPCL, which are next month commissioning the largest berth for oil carriers in the country, have signed a pact to invest an additional Rs 1,500 crore to set up oil tanks, he pointed out.

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