MUI seeks use of CSR funds by major ports on maritime training infra

Maritime body MUI on Monday said it has sought spending of corporate social responsibility (CSR) funds by 12 major ports of India on strengthening the country”s maritime training infrastructure.

India has 12 major ports under the control of the central government — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia).

“India”s oldest union of merchant navy officers, the Maritime Union of India (MUI) has sought CSR support from 12 major ports of India to strengthen the country”s maritime training infrastructure,” the MUI said in a statement.

The Lok Sabha last month passed the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020, that seeks to provide greater autonomy in decision-making to 12 major ports in the country and professionalise their governance by setting up boards.

MUI General Secretary Amar Singh Thakur said, “The Bill provides that every major port”s board may use its CSR funds for providing various social benefits, including skill development. We urge these ports to spend a sizeable amount of CSR funds in upgrading maritime skills of Indian seafarers in the years to come.”

The MUI said since the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 explicitly mentions that CSR benefits could be provided to the employees of port’s board, customers, business partners, local communities, environment and the society at large, thus, the major ports of India should also offer CSR support to skilling initiatives aimed at increasing the global share of Indian seafarers, it said.

“Since the Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 will apply to the major ports of Chennai, Cochin, Jawaharlal Nehru Port, Kandla, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Paradip, V.O. Chidambaranar and Vishakhapatnam; the huge corpus of CSR funds will prove to be extremely beneficial for all seafarers residing across various states of India,” added Thakur.

The MUI also demanded that every port should invite the suitable representation from Indian seafaring community in the proposed composition of the Port Board which will replace the existing Port Trust.

The Major Port Authorities Bill, 2020 mandates the inclusion of two to four independent members in the creation of each port”s board.

Shipping is one such industry wherein women constitute a very miniscule part of the shipboard workforce, the MUI said.

It is for that very reason that the global bodies like International Maritime Organization and International Transport Workers” Federation have laid such high emphasis on the inclusion of more women in the industry, it said.

“I propose that all major ports of India should primarily focus on providing their CSR funds” support to Indian women keen on becoming world class merchant navy officers,” said Thakur.