Monday, November 5, 2012

Dotting shipyards & cruise capabilities make Goa an ace maritime State in India

Published in Sagar Sandesh Maritime Weekly recently

With a number of small and big shipyards / dry docks dotting along its coastline and cruise tourism  fetching a good amount of revenue for the tiny State in West Coast of late, Goa has undoubtedly earned a tag of ‘ace maritime state’ in India.
Besides playing a major role in the economic development of the country through export of iron ore and coal, Goa has nurtured a niche identity of being a tourists’ paradise among both domestic and international tourists.

Mr. Manguirish N Pai Raiker, Presient, Goa Chamber of Commerce and Industry
“Goa has 105 km long coastline. We are equally blessed with good internal inland waterways - two major rivers, which are the source for the inland waterways. There are enough opportunities for  ship building activities, for inland transportation, and you all know the maximum cargo carried by inland waterways (in India) is carried out in Goa. We need to improve upon it and plan for its growth. As a  tourism promoting State, we could promote cruise liners, smaller tourist vessels. We all know that at one stage, people used to relish coming to Goa from Mumbai in steamers. And I think there is a need for restarting the service, which will give opportunities to new entrepreneurs to enter the field and also simultaneously we could have internal cargoes being carried from one State to another, which would reduce dependency on roads. At the same time, it would give an all time opportunity for growth in shipping business in the State.”
Mr. V. M. Gaitonde, Director, Dempo Group:
“When we talk about investment opportunities in Goa, three to four important areas come to my mind automatically. The first area, which I feel more important, is the maritime training and education. Goa, which has natural ambience, has a very good continual kind of environment here for education and training centre .Goa, being a maritime state, shipping is in the bloodstream of all here and that’s why we find many people from Goa working in the sector across the globe.
They have the natural aptitude for sea-borne jobs. Though we have got two good institutes in Goa for inculcating maritime education, there is no training institute in Goa for training navigating officers. So there is one scope for that.”
“Second, taking note of the Shipping Ministry’s proposal to make Mormugao Port a multi-cargo handling port, transshipping operation is already taking place in the Port of Goa in the form of bulk cargo, especially iron ore. Now that container cargo is going to be the order of the day in the next five to 10 years, MPT has a problem with land availability and midstream transshipment of container (on the style of Hong Kong Port), providing a good opportunity for Goa in particular and others in general. Third important area, I feel, is the tourism, which has been the main stay of Goa’s economy for the past several years. If somebody can think on setting up Marina coupled with well-organised water sports activities, it will definitely attract more tourism to Goa. Lastly, I cannot conclude without mentioning about the ship building industry. The ship building industry is developed in the backdrop of the development of mining industry in Goa, because mechanized vessels were required. Many a shipyard and dry dock are available in Goa which can be utilized by coastal ship owners as there is a good scope for ship repair activity here.”
Mr. Atul Jadhav, President, Goa Barge Owners Association
“We are having about 360 barges in Goa. Of them, 60 belonged to mine owners and to the exporters of iron ore. There are around 300 barges which are basically used to transport cargo for any exporter. Our barges are suitable for that job, with slightest modifications. They are easily convertible to carry containers. Earlier, the vessels which were designed in Goa were not suitable for carrying containers, because the volume and density of iron ore were very high. Hence, the cargo volumes were very less. During the past seven years, the vessels (about 200 in numbers) which are built here are meticulously planned to carry bigger volumes. Structural changes have also been made on them to suit varied cargoes. So, many of our vessels, which are now used to transport iron ore, can be converted into riversea class vessels eventually leading to carry containers in future.”
Our vessels are also suitable for carrying cargo both in day and night operations. We are in discussion with various shipping offices. They have shown keen interest in developing our vessels into river-sea vessels for moving cargo.  The investments needed to convert them are also not much. When we put up the matter with the DG Shipping, they are quite ready to consider the proposal. These vessels can also be utilized in Gujarat, Gulf of Kutch of Gulf of Cambay, where there are short sea voyages and it will reduce the cost of transportation considerably. Goa, being a net importer of various goods, if anybody is interested in setting up jetties here, Goan rivers would be suitable which we could carry cement and steel, and it will considerably reduce load on road transport.
Captain of Ports is a dedicated department set up by the Government of Goa to look after the maritime-related developments in the West Coast of the State.
The State of Goa has about 555 km of Inland Waterways out of which only 255 km are navigable through the Rivers Mandovi, Zuari and their tributaries. Out of their total length the better part is being used by the Mining and Export Industry for transportation of iron ore to the Port of Mormugao and Panaji outer anchorage, from the loading points in the hinterlands. If these waterways are properly harnessed, they will provide quick and economical transportation facilities for both passengers and cargo traffic.
With this point in view, the Captain of Ports Department shoulders the responsibility of developmental works of these Inland Waterways and Minor Ports of Goa, by way of periodical hydrographic surveys, dredging of rivers, maintenance of lighthouses and beacons, providing necessary navigational aids, imparting training to those desiring to build careers on Inland Vessels, providing landing facilities for both passenger boats and cargo vessels at jetties etc.
As such, for smooth functioning of all the activities in the Inland Waterways Transport Services, this department implements the Indian Ports Act, Inland Vessels Act, Goa Daman and Diu Barge/Goods Taxation Acts etc. Registration of mechanised and non-mechanised vessels such as Inland Cargo, Inland Fishing, Inland Passengers and Tourist Vessels is being undertaken by this department as Registering Authority at Panaji and Mormugao.
The River Navigation Department, Betim, in the State is mainly engaged in the operation of ferry services in the inland waters of Goa for passengers and vehicular traffic in the islands and across the rivers not connected by roads and bridges. This department is headed by the Captain of Ports and is assisted by different administrative staff. The department is having a full-fledged marine workshop at Betim with the required infrastructure which attends to minor and major repairs of the vessels of the department. The main function of the department, being a public utility service, is to provide ferry crossing across the islands and alongside the rivers. At present the services are run on 19 routes within the State of Goa with a fleet of 38 vessels comprising 37 ferry boats and 1 launch. The department is providing free ferry services to foot passengers all ferry crossings and a minimum toll fare being levied on light and heavy vehicular traffic.
The State of Goa has a huge potential to stay numero uno cruise destination in the country. According to statistics available, about 330 cruise vessels have called in Goa ports since 1997 carrying about 90,000 tourists.
Besides, the number of cruise vessels is increasing year by year, thus proclaiming the importance of Goa for the sector.
It may be recalled here that the Chairmen of the five ports - Mumbai, Kochi, Chennai, Mangalore and Mormugao - identified for the promotion of cruise tourism by the Union Tourism Ministry, met in Goa from July 2-4 to discuss how to attract cruise ships from across the world and to promote cruise tourism at the respective ports after creating a dedicated cruise terminal for big ships.
They had dialogue on how they can coordinate and attract more and more ships to their respective ports. Tour operators involved in cruise tourism, representatives of the State Tourism Departments,
Customs officers, Immigration officers and Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF) took part in the deliberations.
Speaking about Goa's cruise terminal, MPT Chairman Mara Pandiyan said the world's biggest cruise vessels will be able to visit the State from the next tourism season as the work of a new, dedicated cruise terminal for big vessels has been completed.
He further added that MPT is planning to construct a dedicated passenger terminal near the cruise terminal to avoid any inconvenience to tourists arriving in such vessels. A proposal has been sent to the Central Government for funds and its approval is awaited. This facility has a length of 310m and a draft of 9.5m. Now, the world's biggest cruise ships, with over 4,000 passengers including crew members, can berth at this terminal without any problem, he felt.
The State Government is expecting over one lakh tourists to arrive in Goa via cruise ships once the dedicated cruise terminal becomes operational.

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