The 1987-built ferry Island Jade has reached Gogha in preparation for the inauguration this weekend of a new ferry service by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The much-awaited ferry will connect Ghogha in Saurashtra with the industrial hub of Dahej in South Gujarat.
The project will reduce the 360-kilometre distance and travel time of eight hours between Saurasthra and South Gujarat to 31km and 90 minutes.
It will also ease congestion on the state highway circumnavigating the gulf.
The terminals at Dahej and Ghogha will provide a berth for the ferry, facilities for the loading and unloading of vehicles and passengers, and administrative facilities.
Mr Modi, who conceptualised the project in 2010 when he was Gujarat Chief Minister, said it would be extended to other places such as Hazira. Other cities, such as Porbander, Jamnagar, Mandvi, Okha and Mumbai, could be added at a later stage.
The project, partly funded by the central government’s Sagarmala initiative, is being developed by the Gujarat government through the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), the state’s maritime regulator.
“The concept is quite popular in Europe and the US, like the English Channel Ferries and places like Seattle and Vancouver. However, in India, the concept has not yet been developed and there are only a few locally-run examples. This is now set to change and the government is making this as priority at the policy level and subsequently enabling the requisite infrastructure with substantial investments in inland waterways and coastal shipping,” said a GMB official.
Surat-based Detox Group’s subsidiary Saurashtra Enviro Projects, in partnership with US-based Black Ball Transport, has been selected as the ferry operator through competitive bidding.
Construction on the infrastructure for the project started in 2012 and was expected to be completed by 2014, but it was delayed by design changes and dredging issues.
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