Even as the
government looks to fix age limits for ships operating in Indian waters, to
ensure overall safety and protect the marine environment from pollution caused
by mishaps, it is mulling a proposal to give more time to existing vessels to
conform to the new norms.
Government officials aware of the development said that a plan is being developed to evolve a
stringent fitness regime that would allow even older ships to operate with
proper health certification, thereby giving more time to the fleet operators to
conform to any new age limit norms.
Industry chambers PHDCCI in a representation to Union Minister of Ports, Shipping
and Waterways and Minister of Ayush Shri SarbanandaSonowal,
suggested calibrated introduction of age limits for vessels and rather a stricter health check regime may
be formulated first in consultation with the industry and class authorities
for vessels that are above a certain cut-off age.
“These vessels should be allowed to operate as long as
they meet the stringent health check regime. This will result in incentivizing
companies to spend money on their older vessel to ensure these vessels can be
operated safely as possible,” the industry body has said in its representation.
Currently, the age limit for registration of vessels
operating in Indian waters is 25 years. But, there is no age restriction after
registration. Government is looking to
fix this loophole. The discussion is to bring down the age of registration
and fix some age restriction for both Indian and foreign vessels that operate
PHDCCI in its representation has also suggested to
bring a sunset clause for phasing out of old vessels like – three years from
the date of the age circular coming into force. This will
give enough time to ship owners to make their contingency plans and renew their
fleets, the industry body has said.
Since the Shipping industry is very heavy capital
intensive, it won’t be possible for any company to renew their fleet without
giving suitable time. New shipbuilding takes 18-30 months depending on the kind
of ship being built. So a sunset clause
before operationalising age restriction will give necessary breather to the
“Irrespective of the Sunset clause, ongoing contracts
with PSUs / Government Authorities, etc, as on the date of coming into force of
the circular, should be allowed to be completed irrespective of the age of the
vessel,” the industry body said.