Union Minister of State for Shipping (Independent charge) Mansukh Mandaviya said that ship-building industry in the country will get a great boost with a ship design and model testing centre coming up as a MoU has been signed with IIT- Kharagpur. The facility will be the first of its kind in the country, he added.
He was the chief guest at the inaugural of the two-day conclave of ports of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Co-operation (BIMSTEC) here on Thursday. He said the centre would be of great use to the other six member-nations in BIMSTEC – Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Nepal. He said there was great potential for improving maritime co-operation, trade and commerce among the seven nations. All the nations were registering 6-7 per cent growth rate in spite of the global slowdown and there was a great deal of synergy in their interests.
He said a single window system for all major ports (12) in the country was being developed and it would be of great help to exim trade. The new bill concerning the major ports to be introduced in Parliament will only enhance their functional autonomy and it will not in any way hamper them, he clarified. He said it was being introduced to enable the major ports to compete with private ports without any hassles, regard to tariff and other matters.
Mandaviya said steps were being taken in the country to improve inland waterways and “we are paving the way for easy, hassle-free movement of cargo from Benaras to Haldia to Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal and also the north-eastern states of India. It will be of great help to all these nations. India is also engaged in developing ports and waterways in these countries.”
He urged the member countries to participate in some of the projects in a huge project undertaken by India – Sagarmala – to improve port modernisation, connectivity and inland waterways.
The minister said that a plan to develop another major port in Andhra Pradesh – besides Visakhapatnam – was mentioned in the AP Re-organisation Act, 2014. “Initially, Dugarajapatnam in Nellore district was considered, but it was not found suitable. We wrote to the previous Government to suggest an alternative site and the present Government has sent a proposal. Ramayapatnam in Prakasam district is being considered. A feasibility report is being made,” he said.
He added that the Union Government was also drawing up plans to develop 202 minor ports in the country, under the control of States, as only around 74 are functional. “These ports play a very vital role,” he added.
Sanjay Bhatia, the chairman of Indian Ports’ Association and also the Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust, spoke about the possible areas of co-operation among the member nations.