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Gadkari inaugurates World Shipping Forum

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 industry.

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 The outdated Merchant Shipping Act of 1957 is being replaced.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 Mumbai.

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 jobs.

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 international tank.

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.


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