Minister Inaugurates India Maritime Week
The Indian tonnage as part of global shipping stood at 10 million GT about a year ago. The Indian tonnage has recently crossed the 11 million GT mark. This was stated by Shri G.K. Vasan, Union Minister of Shipping while inaugurating India Maritime Week in New Delhi today.
Shri Vasan said that last year, in the month of January, the Ministry launched the Maritime Agenda 2020, a vision document spelling out the perspective plan of the Ministry for the decade 2010 to 2020. The objectives of the Maritime Agenda include creation of port capacity of about 3200 MMT to handle the expected traffic of about 2500 MMT by 2020 and bringing ports on a par with the best international ports in terms of performance and capacity. For the shipping sector, the Agenda envisages enhancement of tonnage under the Indian flag and control and also the share of Indian ships in our EXIM trade; increasing India’s share in global ship building to 5% from the present 1%; and raising the share of Indian seafarers from the current level of 7% in the global shipping industry to at least 9% by 2015. The Ministry of Shipping is working relentlessly towards achieving the objectives contained in the Maritime Agenda, Shri Vasan added.
Shri Vasan further informed that during the last two years, 22 projects worth Rs. 6,170 crore had been awarded. The Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust is about to sign an MoU with a private sector consortium for development of Phase I of the Fourth Container Terminal at a cost of Rs. 4,100 crore. Upon completion, the terminal is expected to handle 2.4 million TEUs.
Shri Vasan revealed that the Ministry had issued in 2010 a comprehensive Land Policy to be followed by all the Major Ports for putting land at their disposal to optimal use, whether for port’s own use or for earning revenue by leasing out unutilized land. A further revision of the Land Policy is underway to bring in more transparency. The captive policy, policy to prevent monopoly and the dredging policy are also part of the policy driven development of the port sector.
Shri Vasan stated that in order to promote Indian shipping, the Government has introduced tonnage tax. The Ministry of Shipping has also taken up with the Ministry of Finance the need for exemption of Minimum Alternate Tax (MAT) on the book profit on sale of qualifying ships and its inclusion within tonnage tax regime. The inclusion of interest income on funds deployed out of tonnage tax reserve within tonnage tax regime has also been taken up. The Ministry would come out with a policy for the promotion of coastal shipping, he added.
Regarding the Government’s initiative to handle Marine accidents and pollutions Shri Vasan said that in order to put in place a mechanism to handle marine accidents, the Ministry of Shipping has obtained the approval of the Cabinet for accession to the Wreck Removal Convention and the Protocol of 1996 to the Limited Liability Convention. Shri Vasan informed that very soon, the Ministry would be seeking the approval of the Cabinet for other related conventions like the Bunker Convention which would go a long way in addressing issues of pollution arising out of marine accidents.
Shri K. Mohandas, Secretary Shipping also spoke on the occasion. This week-long event will bring both International & Indian maritime community together through conferences, dialogues, exhibitions, special trade events and social events.
Dredging Today Staff, January 19, 2012; Image: indiamaritimeweek