Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi, on March 30th, 2015 inaugurated the Merchant Navy Week at New Delhi. A delegation under the Ministry of Shipping, Govt. of India, led by the Minister of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari, called on the Prime Minister on the occasion, today. The delegation comprised of the Minister of State for Shipping, Shri P. Radhakrishnan and Secretary to the Government of India in the Ministry of Shipping, Shri Rajive Kumar and other representatives of the seafarers and shipping industry.
On this occasion, Shri Narendra Modi recalled the rich maritime traditions of India going back to the Indus Valley civilisation. He recollected that the first port in the world was set up in Lothal. The PM also reminisced that in the 19th century, vision of the maritime sector was far reaching.
The Prime Minister also stated that the Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad had passed a resolution, around the year 1890, calling for waterway connectivity to the sea, which was 100 km away, through a canal system. Talking about the historical strong tradition of ship building in India, he exhorted for the all round, robust and integrated growth of the shipping and port industry in the country.
‘The Merchant Navy Week’ is culminated on 5th of April annually, since 1964. Celebrating the achievements of the Indian maritime sector, every year on April 5th, the maiden sailing of the first Indian flag merchant vessel, ‘S.S. Loyalty’, from Mumbai to London, is commemorated. The vessel heralded the advent of India into the international maritime arena.
The National Maritime Day celebrations would be organized at various port cities all over the country. A wreath laying ceremony would be organized at the Seamen’s Memorial to pay tribute to the brave navy merchants who laid down their lives while serving on the high seas in the first and second world wars. A seminar on the theme ‘Make in India – an opportunity for the maritime sector’ would also be organized in Mumbai and at State levels. During the main function on 5th April,‘Varuna Award’, Excellence Award, Gallantry Award, etc., would also be felicitated for outstanding contributions to various shipping sectors.
The Prime Minister was briefed up on numerous schemes and matters of concern.
I. Scheme of Financial Assistance for On-Board Ship Training for Indian Merchant Navy Cadets/ Trainees
The scheme provides financial support to about 2000 cadets of Indian Maritime University and its affiliates for the batches who have passed out/ completed their on-shore classroom training in the years 2010, 2011 & 2012, but were not able get on-board ship training due to non-availability of training berths in Indian Flagships. The scheme provides them financial assistance to the tune of 30% of the training cost or Rs. 3 lakhs, whichever is less, as grant-in-aid. The scheme will be open to all categories of cadets. The cadets belonging to SC/ST/OBC and Minorities will be free to obtain loan towards the 70%) remaining cost of training through Finance and Development Corporations of the respective social sector Ministries.
II. Modal Shift Incentive Scheme for Coastal Shipping
Scheme will run from April 1, 2015 till March 31, 2017, of the current (12th) Five Year Plan that aims to encourage modal shift of domestic cargo transportation from existing modes such as road and rail to Coastal and Inland Waterway transport. The incentives are as follows:
(i) Transportation of bulk or break-bulk cargo pertaining to seven commodities viz. fertilizers, food grains, marbles, tiles, sugar, edible salt and over-dimensional cargo, shall be eligible for an incentive at Re. 1 per tonne per nautical mile up to a maximum of 1,500 nautical miles.
(ii) Transportation of any commodity in containers in Full Container Load (FCL) at an incentive at Rs. 3,000/- per TEU.
(iii) Transportation of vehicles through Ro-Ro Vessels shall be eligible for the following incentives: at Rs. 300/- per two-wheeler vehicle; at Rs. 600/- per three-wheeler vehicle; and, at Rs. 3,000/- for other vehicles.
III. Indian Maritime University
The University proposes to strengthen the presence of IMU in states like Gujarat, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and other Coastal Port cities which are long sea-faring and maritime tradition. It is also proposed to set up a campus at Ratnagiri in Maharashtra. The focus of the University is proposed to create skilled manpower in the maritime sector since it has huge employability potentials. It is also proposed to appoint a pro-Vice Chancellor who can pay special attention to the campuses of IMU located in the western coast of India and if necessary adequate budgetary support will be provided for this purpose.
IV. Sagarmala Project
"Sagarmala Project" has been launched with an objective of modernizing the Major Ports along India's coastline and also achieving rapid expansion and development of inland and coastal navigation by optimizing the use of existing and future transport assets. The Ministry requested for Rs.692 crores for the year 2015-16 against which Rs. 200 crores have been allocated during the, next financial year. The Project has already been approved by the Cabinet.
V. Cabotage Relaxation
Ministry of Shipping is considering relaxation of cabotage restriction under Section 407 (3) of the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 with the following features, namely:
(a). Relaxation of cabotage restriction for Special vessels such as RO-RO/Hybrid Ro-RO/Ro-Pax/Pure Car Carriers/Pure Car and Truck Carriers which are in short supply in India, and for any type of vessels carrying passengers (such as ferries), Project Cargo or Over Dimensional Cargo (ODC) also for a period of three years from the date of notification.
(b). Relaxation of cabotage restriction for movement of EXIM containerized cargo and empties for all ports in India located on the East Coast.
VI. Inland Water Transport:
New Schemes of Inland Water Transport have been initiated which include:
Jal Marg Vikas Project: This project was announced in the Budget Speech for the year 2014-15 that aims at strengthening of open river navigation technique and hardware including dredging, modern river information system, Digital Global Positioning System (DGPS), night navigation facilities, latest state of art terminal facility and modern methods of channel marking. The completion of the project would provide assured Least Available Depth (LAD) of 3.0 meter for plying 1500 to 2000 DWT vessels for commercial navigation at least between Haldia and Allahabad. The project is being implemented with financial assistance of World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs.4200 crore.
VII. New Major Ports
The Government has decided to take steps for setting up of a new major port each in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal at Durgarajapatnam and Sagar respectively. Projects relating to setting up of both the Ports were approved by the Cabinet that would be developed in PPP mode.
VIII. Port Connectivity Corporation
The Cabinet has approved the proposal of M/o shipping to create Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) to focus on providing efficient evacuation systems in Major Port and to improve the connectivity. The SPV would undertake the following Projects:
1. Last mile connectivity to major Ports
2. Modernization of evacuation infrastructure in Ports
3. To operate and manage internal Port Railway system
4. To raise financial resources for funding Port related railway Projects
Earlier in the day, A delegation from the maritime sector, led by Minister for Shipping, Shri Nitin Gadkari, called on the Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi today, on the occasion of National Maritime Day.
Shri Gadkari pinned a flag on the lapel of the Prime Minister, to mark the occasion.
In the course of discussions, the Prime Minister remarked that India's maritime heritage goes back nearly 5000 years, with the oldest known port being Lothal. He urged all stakeholders to work together to establish a world-class maritime museum, to showcase this glorious aspect of India's history. The Prime Minister said India has great potential in the area of shipbuilding, and this must be pursued as part of the "Make in India" initiative.
Shri Gadkari briefed the Prime Minister on plans for skill development in the shipping sector.