Essar Bulk Terminal (EBTL), part of ports business of Essar, has launched a new cruise route from Hazira to Diu from its passenger ferry terminal at Hazira Port, thus revolutionizing coastal transportation across the western coast of India and giving a boost to coastal tourism for the people of Gujarat.
Following the WHO guidelines for Covid-19 precautions, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Ports, Shipping and Waterways & Minister of State for Chemicals & Fertilizers, Government of India flagged off the Ferry service at passenger terminal in Hazira through virtual presence.
Commenting on the launch, Mansukh Mandaviya, said “The development of cruise tourism has been the prime focus of the Government under the guidance Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi. In 2014, there were around 1.07 lakh cruise passengers in India per annum which was 4.63 lakh per annum in 2019-20. The cruise calls to Indian ports was 139 and 445 for these periods.
Under the Maritime Vision 2030, we are aiming for more than 350 cruise ships, 3000 plus cruise calls per annum, more than 3 cruise training academies and 5 million cruise passengers by 2030. We are taking all-round steps to create perfect ecosystem for cruise industry. The passenger ferry service has seen a giant leap with the development Hazira as a cruise tourism hub. This will also open up many opportunities for the tourism sector of Gujarat as well.”
“Since inception Essar has been involved in the development of Indian Maritime Sector and it continues to do so. We are delighted with this launch as the project is aligned to the Maritime India Vision 2030 of Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways and paves way for accelerated growth of India's Maritime Sector. We would like to thank the Union Ministry of Shipping and Government of Gujarat for their constant support in achieving this milestone,” said Prashant Ruia, Director, Essar Capital.
JAI SOFIA “Mumbai Maiden”, a state of the art cruise cum passenger ferry vessel with a capacity of 300 passengers will now sail in the inaugural route from Hazira to Diu. The vessel has all the facilities on board and provides a bouquet of services on board. The ferry services are being operated by SSR Marine Services.
Speaking on the occasion Rajiv Agarwal, Managing Director, Essar Ports said, “This is a big milestone for us. The Ferry Terminal was commissioned in record time and the ferry services through it are a significant addition to air, road, and rail-based connectivity along Indian coastline. It is part of our strategic plan to reduce congestion on roads, cut fuel consumption and limit air pollution. In future we would like to add more services and connections which will reduce the time of travel and at the same time minimize impact on environment. The new route to Diu will serve as an outlet for recreation for the people of Gujarat and boost the Cruise/ Ferry sector in Maritime Space”.
Covid-19 pandemic had a detrimental impact on ferry and cruise operations across the globe. The pandemic has not only impacted the economy but hampered the travel. With the vaccination drive across the nation and nation coming out of almost a year of restricted travel. As the world learns to live with the pandemic, EBTL has made arrangements to launch the ferry services and shall follow World Health Organization recommended guidelines to ensure that the ferry operations are done in a safe and healthy environment.
Spurred by the PM’s vision, Gujarat government gave its permission to EBTL to develop and operate a Passenger Ferry Terminal at Hazira, where the Company also operates a 50 MTPA dry bulk cargo terminal.
EBTL took charge of designing and constructing the facility, which includes both marine structures, like landing platform, passenger walkway and floating pontoon, as well as shore-based facilities, like a terminal building, cafeteria and vehicle parking area. The project was completed in record time using Essar’s in-house expertise and resources. Essar’s own dredgers were used, for instance, to ensure the draft required for operating the terminal.
Essar Ports specializes in development and operations of Ports and Terminals for handling liquid, dry bulk, break bulk and general cargo. It is one of the largest private sector port & terminal developer & operators in India by capacity and throughput. It has four operational terminals in India across Hazira and Salaya (in the state of Gujarat) on the west coast, and one each in Visakhapatnam and Paradip on the east coast. Current operational Port Terminal capacity in India is 110 MMTPA.