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Explained: PM Modi to inaugurate Gujarat’s Ghogha-Hazira ferry service. Why the new service?

8th November, 2020 Economy

Context: Prime Minister will virtually inaugurate the Ghogha-Hazira Ro-Pax ferry service in Gujarat.

  • This will be the second such ferry service to be launched by the PM after the Ghogha-Dahej route three years ago, which is now dysfunctional.

What is different about the Ghogha-Hazira RoPax ferry service?

  • Both the services were launched to bridge the Gulf of Khambhat by providing a sea route to large number of passengers travelling to and fro between Bhavnagar located on the western side of the Gulf and South Gujarat on the east.
  • The sea route would be shorter compared to the road.
  • The ferry between Ghogha — a fishing hamlet and an old port — and Hazira — a commercial greenfield port is about 60 km-long and provides easier access to the city of Surat.
  • Via land, the route is about 400 km.
  • Over Rs 650 crore has been spent in building the connectivity for RoPax ferry between Ghogha and Dahej.

The Ghogha-Dahej ferry service

  • While the Ghogha-Dahej ferry service has been on the drawing boards since 1995, the CRZ or the Costal Regulation Zone clearance for construction and operation of the RO-RO ferry service terminals at Ghogha and Dahej were received on June 14, 2010.
  • The sea route would benefit 12,000 people — most of whom are connected with the diamond business in Surat — who travel daily between Saurashtra and South Gujarat and the 5000 vehicles that ply between the two regions.
  • Currently this passenger ferry is beached at the Dahej terminal in a state of decay after the Surat-based ferry operator Indigo Seaways Pvt Ltd put it up for sale in November last year but failed to find buyers.

What went wrong?

  • The problems of navigating at low depths in the Gulf of Khambhat was evident.
  • The propeller blades ran too close to the seabed and the resulting vibrations damaged the parts of the vessel.
  • Water discharged from the Narmada dam had “resulted in heavy and unexpected siltation in the navigation channel at Dahej Ro-Ro terminal.