The Maritime States Development Council (MSDC) has decided to set up a Committee comprising the Indian Navy, concerned Maritime State, the Members of State Maritime Boards, Coast Guard, State Police, Customs and the Ministry of Shipping for sharing information on Traffic, Port and Ship security related issues. It has also decided to establish a protocol for periodic sharing of information by the Maritime States on existing as well as upcoming Non Major Ports with the Ministry of Shipping, the Ministry of Home Affairs, Indian Navy and the Coast Guard to effectively address coastal security concerns. This was decided here in the 11th Meeting of the Maritime States Development Council presided over by the Union Minister for Shipping, Shri G.K. Vasan.
In his opening remarks, the Union Shipping Minister said that the priority for the Indian Ports is to gear up to keep pace with challenges posed by the growing economy and India’s burgeoning International Trade. This would involve emphasis on increasing the operational efficiency of Indian Ports so that they are competitive and at par with the other Ports in the region and in the world. Modern cargo handling techniques would be introduced to improve port performance not just for containerized cargo but also for the dry bulk and conventional cargo. Proper policies and other steps would also be taken to deal with these vital issues of port efficiency, productivity, manpower planning, equipment and its performance, the Minister added.
Shri Vasan further recalled the potential of maritime trade in the country underlining the fact that the ports handle around 95 percent of India’s total trade in terms of volume and 70 percent in terms of value. Of this traffic by surface transport, major ports handled 70 percent of the total cargo traffic while the minor or non-major ports accounted for the remaining 30 percent during the year 2008-09. With the emergence of large private investments, the cargo handling capacity at minor ports has increased significantly. Minor ports in India have a capacity to handle about 230 million tonnes of cargo and the traffic handled was about 202 million tonnes during the year 2008-09. The minor ports are expected to add about 350 million tonnes of additional capacity by 2012, taking the total handling capacity of the minor ports to 580 million tonnes by 2012, the end of the 11th Five-Year Plan.
Shri Mukul Roy, Minister of State for Shipping also emphasized the important role played by ports in India in development of the country’s maritime trade and its economy, particularly in the age of liberalization and globalization. He said, the progressive liberalization/globalization of the Indian economy since the early ninetees has brought into focus the need for improving efficiency, productivity and quality of service as well as bringing in competitiveness in our port services. The role of ports is being redefined from mere trade gateways to integral components of the global logistics and transportation chain. The Maritime Sector will have to fulfil its role in realising this objective, the Minister mentioned.
Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Ms. Kiran Dhingra underlined the objectives of the Maritime State Development Council which has been playing a pivotal role in coordinating the issues of concern between Centre and the Maritime States for better handling of traffic by the Indian Ports, augmenting the traffic handling capacity and addressing the security concerns more effectively ever since its inception in 1997.
The 11th Meeting of MSDC held today was attended by the representatives of Maritime States, Major Ports, Indian Ports Association, Indian Navy, Coast Guard, DG (Shipping) among others. The following resolutions were adopted unanimously at the end of the meeting:
(i) All the members of Maritime States would provide data on monthly basis on regular traffic handled by the Ports and on quarterly and annual basis on capacity enhancement achieved, to the Ministry of Shipping as a first step to an integrated planning for exim traffic across the seaboard.
(ii) Maritime States that had not yet restructured their port administrations – namely, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Orissa and West Bengal would endeavour to form their State Maritime Boards by March, 2010.
(iii) Safety norms for passenger boats and barges running/plying in coastal area, backwater and rivers would be reviewed, revised and strictly implemented in consultation with DG(Shipping), Ministry of Shipping.
(iv) Priority would be given by all Maritime States to install VTMS in their Ports.
(v) A Committee comprising the Indian Navy, concerned Maritime State, the Members of State Maritime Boards, Coast Guard, State Police, Customs and the Ministry of Shipping be set up for sharing information on Traffic, Port and Ship security related issues. The Committee should hold meetings quarterly to review the security aspect of coastal States. Indian Navy would convene these meetings regularly.
(vi) All the Members of MSDC would notify the model rules on the basis of draft rule circulated by DG(Shipping) by 31.3.2010.
(vii) In the light of recommendation of the M.S. Swaminathan Committee Report submitted to M/o Environment & Forest, the Maritime States urged that existing projects approved as part of the National Maritime Development Programme (NMDP) and 11th Five Year Plan to create the necessary capacities to handle the projected international trade should be allowed to continue with the requirement that additional measures, if necessary for containment of damage to the coast line if any would need to be implemented.