Fresh from the success of raising funds from the public for the Cochin
Shipyard, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced another massive
scheme of securing funds from the public for the state owned National Highway
Authority of India as part of the government's initiative to raise Rs ten lakh
crores for the development of roads in the country.
The Minister made the announcement while inaugurating the three day meeting
of the World Shipping Forum on November 23 where industry experts from all over
the world meet once in four years to grapple with the problems facing the
Organised by the Chennai branch of the Institute of Marine Engineers the
theme for this year's seminar is Maritime India-Propelling growth amidst
Disruptive Technologies. Convener of the forum K Shankar said the seminar will
serve as a platform for discussion on the influence disruptive technologies
have on a wide range of topics connected with the Shipping Industry.
The Minister said the NHAI will float a ten year bond shortly offering an
attractive interest rate of 7.75 per cent interest per annum for Senior
Citizens and 7.5 per cent for others.
Since the Shipping Industry is undergoing vast changes he said the
government has decided to keep pace with the latest developments in the
industry. In this connection the government proposes to repeal and amend
obsolete laws so that the industry is not put to inconvenience.
He said the Major Port Authority Bill is still under the consideration of
the Parliament and it will be the government's endeavor to have it adopted at
the earliest. The outdated Merchant Shipping Act of 1957 is being replaced. The
jurisdiction of the law governing Maritime Claims has been replaced recently.
This he said was a 126 year old law of British vintage.
On the infrastructure front the government has already spent Rs one lakh
eighty thousand crores in the last three years in the shipping sector. Fourteen
industrial clusters have been planned on the coastal states. Rs sixty thousand
crores Special Economic Zone is being created at Jawaharlal Nehru Port near
A Dedicated Railway Line to carry freight from Indore to Manmad is being
constructed by the Port Railway Corporation at a cost of Rs 47,000 crores to facilitate
movement of goods from central India to JNPT. The freight from central India
could not be moved swiftly because of traffic problems in Gujarat. It took
nearly seven days for the cargo to move from Indore to JNPT putting the
shippers to great difficulty. The project will solve their problems.
The performance of major ports owned by the government has improved vastly
during the last three years. The year this government took office in 2014 the
profits of the ports stood at Rs three thousand crores. It has more than
doubled to rs seven thousand crores last year.
The ministry has supported the move of JNPT to develop roads to the
hinterland by availing loans from a Singapore bank at a low interest of two per
cent per annum.
The government has plans to invest a sum of Rs twenty five lakh crores on
various infra projects in the road and shipping sectors during the five year
term of the present government. This way we want to contribute to the GDP
growth rate by two to three per cent. We are also targeting to generate one crore
It is also committed to reduce road accidents by at least fifty per cent.
About one lakh fifty thousand persons are getting killed annually in road
accidents in the country.
Dr Malini V Shanker Director General of Shipping in her presidential address
referred to the frequent incidents of collision between Merchant Navy Ships and
the fishing boats and said there have been at least four or five such mishaps
in the last few years. In all the cases she said we are finding it difficult to
pin point the merchant navy vessel involved in the accident. This issue has
been raised by the courts which are adjudicating the cases.
She said we must a find a way by which the vessels involved in such
accidents could be easily identified and this helps the prosecution to conduct
the cases smoothly.
Ms Shanker spoke of the vast changes likely in the shipping sector in the
near future whereby concept of tonnages may become redundant. People even
forecast the demise of insurance companies and classification societies
Referring to the recent restrictions imposed by the European Union on ship
emissions she said we have to take up these issues in global forums like the
IMO. The environmental challenges need to be taken up at international forums.
She also spoke about the acute shortage of officers capable of handling sophisticated
ships and said the industry expected better quality from them.
Earlier the minister honoured two Indian captains K P Rajagopal and Capt
Venkatraman for their brave role in evaucating thousands of civilians from the
war torn Libya several years ago. The national heroes were to be awarded the
citation by the Shipping Ministry. But the ceremony was however dropped at the
last minute. Mr Sankar convener of the forum urged the minister to ensure that
the national heroes are properly honoured by the government.
Mr Rajesh Unni CEO of Synergy Global United, Mr N Kumar, Vice President of
Sanmar Group gave the key note address.
Others who spoke at the meeting include Mr Luis Benito, Director Innovation
and Strategic Research, Lloyds Register, Alister Evitt, Group Director V
ships,Neils Josefesen head, drybulk, V group and Ms Katrina Stanzel MD
Mr Kushal Rai, Chairman of Chennai branch of Institute of Marine engineers
in his welcome address said disruptive technologies are threatening a large
number of shipping companies. Vice chairman of the branch Mr P K Anil Kumar
proposed a vote of thanks.