The Shipping Ministry will review the cabotage policy next
year and introduce changes if Indian shipping lines have been adversely
affected in the intervening period, Nitin Gadkari, the union minister for
shipping, said at an event in Mumbai on October 22.
He was responding to concerns raised by Indian shippers
about losing business after the cabotage rules had been relaxed.
In May, a Shipping Ministry Order eased the so-called
cabotage rule, which allows only Indian shipping lines to carry export-import
containers for trans-shipment on local routes.
Now, foreign-flagged ships are also allowed to pick up
containers along the Indian coast to trans-shipment hubs such as Singapore or
return empty containers to these ports without any restrictions.
According to Mr Gadkari, the cabotage rules were eased by
the government because local shipping lines were unable to create a major
trans-shipment hub in India, despite enjoying cabotage benefits that kept
foreign liners out of the market.