The Maritime India Summit organized in the city has resulted in investment commitments of nearly Rs 83,000 crore ($13 billion) in the shipping, ports and allied sectors. As many as 141 agreements entailing an investment of Rs 82,900 crore were signed at the summit. Inland water transport has to be integrated with the coastal and foreign trade by carrying cargo economically and safely to bigger ships for onward carriage. For achieving this objective we need good approach roads, lifting arrangements for the purpose of loading on suitable barges for safe and timely carriage for further movement of the cargo. Support by police and customs department will also be vital.
The National Maritime Day was first celebrated on 5th April, 1964. Our Indian shipping companies have not developed as per expectations largely because of lack of enterprise (wage earner’s attitude) and failure of co-ordination between DG Shipping and SCI/INSA. Steps must be taken to address this issue at the earliest. Maharashtra Maritime Board is another bureaucratic body. These are the reasons why we are lagging behind in port development despite having such a vast coast line. Then we cry that China is encircling us from all sides. We are still carrying our ships for dry docking and repairs to China. What stops us from building and repairing our own ships?
There is a need to enlist support of foreign technicians in our efforts for skill development and operation of specialized ships. Let this task also become a part of the Make in India programme which will give a boost to manufacturing activities in the country. We should be bustling with activities on our waterfronts. Our dredging industry also needs to develop and play its part in development of ports and waterways. Some ports have done very well and we should be happy about that. I always liked Kandla, hope there is shuttle bus now from far located jetties to gate.
There have been reports in media about the corporatisation of Indian ports but this activity should be undertaken in a phased manner. Before going ahead with this policy the government must take into confidence the labour organisations and local stake holders. Maritime education remains a matter of concern where skill training must be given greater priority rather than theoretical training. The government must seek assistance from other organizations like IDEMI. We should not feel shy of taking help of foreign technicians based in Ukraine.
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)