Friday, April 6, 2012

Indian maritime environment fragile, says ICG

Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on April 6, 2012:

CHENNAI: Sending out an early warning to the country’s security establishments about the prevailing conditions on the high seas, a senior Coast Guard official on Thursday said that the Indian maritime environment was ‘fragile.’ 
Addressing a gathering of past and future mariners during the culmination of 49th National Maritime Day celebrations here, Inspector General Satya Prakash Sharma, Commander of Coast Guard (East Region), said, “Not many incidents of sea piracy and petty thefts on board vessels on Indian waters were being reported to the Indian Coast Guard as much as they were reported with international organisations outside the country.”
“I am pained to inform you that not on many occasions, these incidents (of piracy and petty thefts encountered at mid-sea) get reported at the Maritime Rescue and Coordination Centre (MRCC) of the Indian Coast Guard,” Sharma said.
However, instant communication (about such events) is made to the Piracy Reporting Centre of the IMB (International Maritime Bureau) at Kuala Lumpur and ReCAAP (Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia) of Singapore, the Commander said.
“It is important for us to neutralise any such incidents instantly rather than give it wide publicity as it does not help as far as India’s maritime security is concerned,” Sharma added. 
GRK Reddy, chairman and managing director, MARG group and promoter director, Karaikal Port Pvt Ltd, said, “As India charts itself as the port of call for world trade, ports and terminals need to meet the growing demand in terms of both infrastructure and capacity.”
As one of the fastest growing economies in the world and possessing such a large coastline, India can accelerate growth rate by providing superior infrastructure at its ports and shipyards and focusing on the overall logistics and supply chain efficiencies, Reddy added. Development of India’s port and shipping industry is, therefore, critical to achieving higher levels of growth, he said.
P Misra, chairman, National Maritime Day Celebrations Committee, and S Velumani, CMD, Ennore Port Ltd (EPL), were present at the ceremony.

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