Steps on to tide over sea-time crisis: DGS
Mr. Gautam Chatterjee, Director General of Shipping, has announced that necessary steps are taken to tide over the sea-time shortage for trainees. In his address at the Shipping, Marine and Ports International Conference 2014, organised by Chemtech in Mumbai, he said that the Government, stakeholders and Maritime Training Institutes are coming together to resolve the issue.
Former Director General and Secretary of Shipping M. P. Pinto rued that scores of seminars and conferences are being held and reams of reports have been churned out, but the share of coastal shipping in the multi-modal transportation is not as impressive as it should be. There are benefits galore in promoting coastal shipping including environmental and economic takeaways that surprisingly prompt one to pose the question why the sector that promises on all accounts needs to be pampered with tax breaks to make deep inroads.
Presumably, the ‘why subsidy’ poser may not go well down with the shipping fraternity and “my friends in the shipping industry may even dub me as anti-coastal”, but one needs to address the fundamental fault lines in the land legs that connect with sea legs. Land legs are shorter than sea legs and the rub lies in evacuating cargo via land legs to the port to be apparently handled by the coastal vessel. Much of the problem of congestion in the land legs is also due to dispersal of Container Freight Stations away from port locations, he said.
What would catalyze the coastal shipping growth is replicating the European Marcopolo model of development in setting apart certain percentage of cargo to be transported by coastal shipping. The cargo volume can be incrementally expanded year-on-year in a phased manner till it reaches the desired levels on par with rail and road. Of course there would be customs problem, berth issues and dedicated barge problems that could be overcome with persistence, he added.
The other major contentions are tax treatment to seafarers sailing coastal vessels and allocation of capital on par with road and rail. The quantum of budgetary allocation in developing road and rail infrastructure is sadly not extended towards the development of 7, 517 km of coast. No tax to foreign-going sailors and tax applicability to coastal shipping sailors are brazenly biased and there should be a waiver of IT to inland vessel staff too, he opined.
Mr. Pinto also demurred the drawing of comparison between Singapore ports and Indian ports. One often hears that Singapore ports have 7-8 hours Turn Around Time (TAT) vis-à-vis 62 hours of Indian ports. The Singapore port as common standard of reference cannot be made with all the 13 Major Ports in the country.
Say for instance, Mumbai Port cannot handle large vessels obviating the need for RMQCs where comparison of crane movements is untenable.
Similarly, comparison cannot be made on New Mangalore Port that handles less than 50, 000 TEUs objectively not in need of modern equipment that are deemed unwarranted at the current point of time. The proper comparison would be matching of Singapore ports efficiency with terminals in JNPT, Vallarpadam, Mundra terminals, DP World, Pipavav Port, etc.
Logistics cost a daunting challenge
Quite against the global benchmark of 8.5%, the Indian logistic cost is calculated to be at 13.5% of the country’s GDP.
The tertiary sector or the service sector that comprise 60% of GDP does not avail the logistics sector, where as the cost arises mostly from the secondary sector that currently contributes around 20% to the GDP. The multimodal logistic bottleneck challenges and cost are set to mount when the secondary sector or the industrial sector gallops to 35% to 40% of GDP.
Mr. Eivind S Homme, Ambassador, Norwegian Embassy, underscored the win-win cooperation between India and Norway in the maritime sector especially in research and innovation. He divulged how Norwegian machinery and parts are used in the Indian shipping sector besides Norwegian ship owners employing close to 6, 000 Indian shipping staff.
Capt. J. C. Anand, Chairman Emeritus, Indian Register of Shipping, highlighted the plight of Indian Maritime University students with no sea time. Mr. Noboru Ueda, Chairman and President, Class NK, underlined the potential of classification services business in India. Mr. M. V. Ramamurthy, President (Shipping), Reliance Industries Ltd., summed up the session and reiterated on the various projects and technological innovations in the maritime industry.
Earlier, Mr. Maulik Jasubhai, Group Chief Executive, Chemtech Foundation, delivered the welcome address. Mr. Navpreet Singh, Joint Managing Director, Dolphin Offshore Enterprises (India) Ltd., proposed a vote of thanks.