Tuesday, October 29, 2013

New salary scale for port & dock workers


Bringing a happy end to the marathon wage negotiations between the Bipartite Wage Negotiation Committee (BWNC) comprising five major Federations of Port and Dock Workers’ Federation and the Indian Ports Association since July last year, both the parties on Oct. 25 signed the new wage settlement that would heave a sigh of relief for 50, 000-odd port and dock workers working in 12 Major Ports.
The deal was signed in New Delhi by the stakeholders (representatives of five federations affiliated to INTUC, HMS, CITU and AITUC) in the presence of Mr. B. K. Sanwariya, Chief Labour Commissioner (Central).
According to Shipping Ministry sources, the five-year wage settlement (from 1-1-2012 to 31-12-2016) would come into force with immediate effect.

The agreement will be implemented immediately and the arrears (from 1-1-2012 to till date) will be paid within two months from the date of settlement (Oct 25, 2013).
It may be noted here that the last meeting (10th meeting of the Bipartite Wage Negotiation Committee for all India port and dock workers, held in Madurai on July 2 and 3, failed as the Port Trust management offered only 9 % whereas the federations stuck to their demand of 20 %.
From the first meeting of the Bipartite Wage Negotiating Committee that was held at Vijay-Deep (Administrative Offices of the Mumbai Port Trust) on July 23 last year, there were several ups and downs in the negotiations and on a few occasions, there were even open warnings to the port managements to face the strike call.
However, the regular meetings between these stakeholders actually created conducive environment of late and it has finally helped them seal a decent accord with a win-win situation for both the parties on Oct. 25.

Explaining further about the deal to Sagar Sandesh, Mr.  R. Santhanam, General Secretary, Port & Dock Labour Union, one of the recognized trade unions in Chennai Port, said: “The period of agreement will be from 1-1-2012 to 31-12-2016. We hope that the port management would hand over the arrears to all the employees within the stipulated two months period.”

Since the new wage accord is going to benefit nearly 50, 000 port and dock workers, all the Major Ports are likely to shell out about Rs. 400 crores per annum.

Besides, another important issue of consolidation of pension for the existing 1.25 lakh port and dock pensioners has been referred to a sub-committee.

Basic pay will be fixed as follows

–Existing basic pay as on 31-12-2011 + 57.14 % (variable dearness allowance) VDA x 10.5 fitment (Basic Pay as on 31-12-2011 x 1.7364 will be same).

–Increment 3 %. HRA 15%, 20%, 30% as earlier slab. Port allowance 10 % more than the existing.
–Transport reimbursement Rs. 525 + DA .
–Children’s education allowance Rs.15, 000 per child not exceeding two children.
–Washing allowance Rs.155 and Rs. 200 as per the slab.
– Special washing allowance to fire and hospital section will be locally settled.
–Design allowance as Rs. 500
– In the case of option and MACP fixation benefit will be Rs. 230, Rs. 345 and Rs. 460 to the beneficiaries according to the new scale 1 to 4, 5 to 7 and 8 to 10 respectively. Family planning allowance 3%.
– Child care leave for ladies will be two year.

Scale of Pay as follows :

Existing                                Revised

7,800  –  15,800                 13,500  -  27400

8,100  -  18,200                 14,100  -  31,600

8,300  -  18,600                 14,400  -  32,300

8,600  -  19,900                 14,900  –  34,600

9,000  -  21,200                 15,600  –  36,800

9,400  -  22,000                 16,300  –  38,200

10,200  -  25,700                 17,700  -  44,600

11,000  -  29,400                 19,100  –  51,100

12,100  -  30,800                 21,100  -  53,500

13,600  -  32,400                 23,600  -  56,300

Arrears will be given on or before 31-12-2013.

Is Shipping Ministry trying to destroy Maritime Education in India?


The recent announcement by Union Minister for Shipping G. K. Vasan to lift the ban on new approvals of pre-sea maritime training courses is really a bolt from the blue. Moreover, it is learnt from reliable sources that the Ministry is contemplating on according approval to various engineering colleges to conduct 4-year Marine Engineering programme.

This announcement and contemplation are coming at a juncture when the existing Maritime Training Institutions are finding it extremely difficult to make sea-time arrangements for their students. 
This sea-time training is a requirement for successful completion of the degree courses and leading to first level of competency examinations.
In view of these difficulties faced by the Maritime Training Institutions the Shipping Ministry through its important wing the Directorate General of Shipping had imposed various bans to restrict the flooding of training seafarers in the market. 

The following are some of the directives issued by the DGS for effectively curbing this menace of increased unemployment of trained seafarers:
1.Excerpts from Training Circular No.6 of 2011 dated 20.06.2011

“Subject: Restricting further increase in the intake for the DNS course- reg.

A recent review of the authorized intake for the one-year pre-sea Diploma in Nautical Science course (DNS), leading to the 3-year B.Sc. (Nautical Science) Degree, undertaken in the Directorate General of Shipping, has revealed that the intake capacity created for the DNS course significantly exceeds availability of the structured shipboard training slots. The structured shipboard Training is essential for appearing in the 2nd Mate examination and the consequential employment of the trainees as 2nd Mates.

A situation has therefore arisen where the candidates who have completed 1-year Diploma in Nautical Science (DNS) are staring at the prospect of unemployment over prolonged periods for want of the Structured Shipboard Training.  This is particularly so for a substantial number of candidates who have completed the course in 2010 and reported so even for candidates from prior batches.

In the light of the foregoing, it is decided to freeze the approved intake for the DNS course to the present sanctioned strength until the backlog for Structured Shipboard Training (SST) is reduced to a marginal level. A ban on new approvals/ enhancement of an intake for the DNS course is as such imposed, with an immediate effect. Therefore, until further orders, it is hereby intimated to all concerned that no new applications for new institutes/courses/additional intake of students for DNS course shall be entertained by the Directorate General.”

Subsequently one year later a Training Circular No.4 of 2012 dated June 18, 2012 was issued which states thus:

 “After the opening of the maritime training to private sector in 1996-97, there has been mammoth growth in the number of Maritime Training Institutes conducting pre-sea courses, and as on date more than 85 institutes are approved for conducting various pre-sea training courses of both the discipline, i.e. Nautical and Engineering.
A recent review of the approved intake of pre-sea courses against the training berths availability undertaken by the Directorate has revealed that the intake capacity created for pre-sea courses significantly exceeds the training berths available. The large and rapidly growing backlog of trainee officers, who have completed their pre-sea courses but are unable to get the training berths on board ships – a prerequisite for their Certificates of Competency in the entry grade – are a matter of serious concern.
In view of the above, the Director General of Shipping hereby imposes a ban on increase in capacity by restricting new approvals/ increase in intake in all pre-sea courses leading to entry level competency either at the Second Mate level or at the level of MEO Class IV, whether Foreign Going (FG) or Near Coastal Voyage (NCV). 

Provided, however, an exemption could be made where a State Government wishes to run such a course.”

A survey conducted by the Directorate revealed that there were more than 3, 700 nautical cadets awaiting sea-time berths. An analysis revealed that this flooding was due to the introduction of DNS course, not only by Indian Maritime University but also by various private maritime training institutes. This unnecessarily warranted the above said ban, by issuing various circulars. This sudden unemployment was attributed to global financial recession leading all shipping companies to lay off their ships. They had also cancelled the orders placed for building new ships. 
The present scenario still remains the same.

The shipping industry is still trying to limp back to normalcy. When such is the situation, it is really surprising to learn that the Ministry is planning to open up the floodgates for all the engineering colleges across the country to start Marine Engineering course.

Marine Engineering as such is a specialized profession which demands a lot of dedication, sacrifice and selflessness. Going back in the history of seafaring in India, maritime training was restricted to TSS Dufferin and TS Rajendra as well as Directorate of Maritime Education Training, which were all Government institutions. 
Considering the increased requirement of seafarers globally the Government decided to privatize maritime training in the early 1990s. Naturally when the market got flooded with unemployed engineers and navigating officers, it  imposed the ban.
When the market is still flooded with unemployed seafarers what is the necessity for not only lifting the ban on the existing institutes but also giving approvals for new engineering colleges to start Marine Engineering training. 

This move, obviously, is to satisfy the ever greedy politicians, who all have started various engineering colleges to fill their coffers. Citing the Government’s aspiration to subsequently increase the seafarers to 9% of the world share can only be a distant dream in the prevailing scenario.

Presently the maximum unemployed seafarers are belonging to Nautical Science.By permitting the engineering colleges to conduct Marine Engineering course we will be contributing to unemployed marine engineers also to be roaming about in the streets looking for sea-time.

The DGS is opening up the floodgates once. Then suddenly it is imposing a ban and then re-opening the floodgates again as per the whims and fancies of the unruly politicians, thereby turning the Directorate into the Thuglak Raj. Please save the seafaring community.

The Directorate should have a clear policy with respect to maritime training. The Minister’s aspiration to increase the Indian participation in the global seafaring to 9% can be achieved only when the world economic scenario improves and thereby improving the shipping industry.

The present scenario of the engineering colleges is also pathetic with the mushrooming of engineering colleges. There are neither quality faculty nor quality students. The colleges are unable to produce good engineering graduates. As per the employment agencies’ remarks, only 10% of the engineering graduates passing out from the various engineering colleges are employable. Rest of them have just completed their degree.

Quite a few colleges (engineering as well as arts and science) have recently started MBA programme, as this programme does not come under the purview of AICTE as per the recent court order.  Unfortunately most of them have to close down this programme as there are no takers. Since the control is lacking, the quality is not assured. This is the situation of the peer education sector.
The Shipping Minister will have to consider these aspects before taking a decision. Otherwise he will have his hands full and may find it difficult to face the electorate during the election which is round the corner. The Minister will also have to bear the curses of the trained yet unemployed aspiring seafarers.

Arrested Seaman Guard crew lodged in Chennai jail, enquiry on

"While many seafarers think it was an unwarranted action by the Taiwanese authorities primarily to satisfy their local fishermen and the investigations also cleared Tosa later, the Seaman Guard episode should not be seen as an “Official-harassment” among the international seafaring community."


While the US-based firm AdvanFort, which owns the anti-piracy escort ship Seaman Guard Ohio that has been detained off the coast of Tamil Nadu, termed the action as “inappropriate,” the local police filed a case against the crew and arrested all of them.

According to police sources, a case was registered in Tharuvaikulam Marine PS on Oct. 13 against the crew and guard on board in the vessel Seaman Guard Ohio on the complaint of Assistant Commandant, Indian Coast Guard, Tuticorin, for offences under Arms Act 1959, Essential Commodities Act 1955 and Motor Spirit and High Speed Diesel prevention of malpractices in supply and distribution order 1990.

Investigation by the ‘Q’ Branch CID revealed that the said vessel was found in the territorial waters of India and was in possession of a huge quantity of arms and ammunition, without valid authorisation of documents.
Pic courtesy: www.advanfort.com

During the course of investigation, the ‘Q’ Branch CID seized 35 arms and about 5,680 ammunition from the vessel and also arrested eight crew and 25 guards on the morning of Oct. 18, leaving two crew for upkeep and maintenance of the vessel, till the company makes alternative arrangements for the maintenance of the vessel.

Since then, there were dramatic developments in USA, where the firm is located, and there are frantic efforts by the international community to pinpoint the Indian Government action as ill-advised and against international maritime conventions.

As a security measure, all the arrested crew-members are now shifted to a prison located in the vicinity of the state capital Chennai.

In a strongly worded statement, AdvanFort, while terming the action as “inappropriate,” added that the firm, which relentlessly work for safeguard of commercial ship from piracy attacks in oceans, is working diplomatically and through the judicial system to prove the innocence of 35 detained crew-members and get them released.

“Our vessel Seaman Guard OHIO has been detained in Tuticorin and 35 of our crew and guards are being held. We believe the entire issue is inappropriate, because we were asked to come into Indian territorial waters by the Indian Coast Guard, while we were outside the Indian territorial waters where we were operating,” Mr. William H Watson, President of AdvanFort, told a news agency in India.

One of the members arrested by the police include Capt. Dudnik Valentyn, a master who himself was a victim of Somali pirates. On New Year’s Day in 2011, Somali pirates boarded Capt. Dudnik’s then vessel, the MV Bilda and he and his crew spent 11 months in captivity before being freed on payment of a $2.6 million ransom of the $8 million originally demanded.

Capt. Valentyn is now master of the Seaman Guard Ohio, a vessel used by U.S.-based maritime security firm AdvanFort International as an accommodation platform for counter-piracy guards between transits on client commercial vessels transiting the High Risk Area in the Indian Ocean.

Though the company is yet to produce any valid documents for carrying such huge quantity of weapons onboard, seafarers’ community in India as well as from other countries expressed apprehensions that it should not become thaw in the Indo-US relationship.

An Indian seafarer also recalled how an Indian Captain of MV Tosa was taken to task without valid reasons in Taiwan a few years ago.

In April 2009, MV Tosa, a Panama registered cargo vessel with an international crew, which had unloaded in a South Korean port, was moving to Singapore.

One early morning during her journey, MV Tosa allegedly collided with a Taiwanese fishing trawler, killing two onboard. Capt. Glen Aroza from Mangalore was in charge, with duty officer from Bangladesh Mohammud Karim and seaman Eduardo Mallorca from the Philippines. It was not yet daylight when the alleged collision took place and most people on the MV Tosa were asleep.

The Taiwanese police surrounded the cargo ship within an hour, boarded it and escorted the vessel to Port Hua Lien. Aroza, Karim and Mallorca were immediately arrested and taken to jail, where they remained for the next 17 months while investigations went on as if MV Tosha had actually collided with the Taiwanese fishing boat.

After thorough investigations under water and hull inspection undertaken by the Taiwan and Singapore authorities they concluded that Tosa was not involved in any kind of collision. Finally, Aroza was allowed to return to India in October 2010.

While many seafarers think it was an unwarranted action by the Taiwanese authorities primarily to satisfy their local fishermen and the investigations also cleared Tosa later, the Seaman Guard episode should not be seen as an “Official-harassment” among the international seafaring community.

While Indian authorities are still investigating whether the vessel wantonly entered Indian territorial waters with any motive or lured into by gullible fuel-selling trawlers, only the final outcome of the enquiry would reveal.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Canada makes its third MLC detention

Pic courtesy: http://www.fleetmon.com

The Panamanian-flagged bulk carrier Kouyou was detained on Oct 24 in the Port of Quebec, Canada, after maritime labour officials determined that crew were owed more than USD51,000 in backpay.
It is the third detention in Canada of a vessel under the new international Maritime Labour Convention (MLC 2006), which came into force worldwide in August, a media statement from ITF has said.
Problems aboard the ship were discovered by Mr Gerard Bradbury, an inspector with the International Transport Workers Federation (ITF) and Unifor union.
Mr Gerard explained: "Twenty Burmese and Vietnamese crew, including the Canadian Captain James Maung are not being paid or treated properly, and in particular had been shorted on the home-allotment portion of their pay that provides for families left at home while seafarers are abroad at work.”
The most alarming situation aboard involved crew who had paid a total of USD6,600 in fees to obtain their jobs, Bradbury said.
Recruitment or placement fees paid to manning agents are illegal under international labour conventions. In some cases, crew were also receiving less than half the wage owed them under their labour agreement, he stated. Wage calculations are ongoing, but are expected to top USD51,000 US. Four crew have asked to be repatriated after receiving wages owed them.
Transport Canada was notified and has stepped in to detain the vessel until all wages have been taken care of and the crew have been sent home.
Mr Bradbury said that contact has been made with the Japanese owners Doun Kisen KK, the Japanese company that owns the vessel, and that talks are under way.
The Kouyou is the third foreign vessel detained in Canada for serious violations of international labour standards and violations of a collective bargaining agreement.
Mr Peter Lahay ITF Canada coordinator said: “We are extremely pleased that Canada has seriously given life to the MLC. On our request Transport Canada inspectors are enforcing a convention that has been agreed by the world’s shipping community and member states of the ILO. The ILO has concluded that the world’s seafarers are among the most isolated and marginalised workers in the world and are in need to special protection. That is what we are doing.”
He went on to say that Canadians should be proud that theirs was the first country anywhere in the world to detain a vessel under the provisions of the MLC. In all three cases so far, crew members from the vessels Hydra Warrior, Lia M, and now Kouyou were being badly cheated.
"The world’s seafarers can rest assured that if they have problems aboard their ships Canada's ITF inspectors will do everything in their power to correct the problems," Mr Peter Lahay added.

Delay in completion of road connectivity projects: Chennai Port Chairman takes it up with Chief Secretary


With the actual beneficiaries of port connectivity projects – exporters, importers, trade bodies and Chambers of Commerce – still dilly-dallying over taking up the inordinate delay in completion of such projects with the Tamil Nadu State Government authorities, Chennai Port Trust, another equally important partner in the EXIM trade, has wrote a detailed letter to the State Chief Secretary, Ms. Sheela Balakrishnan, to speed up them.

According to EXIM experts, it was a welcome move from the Chennai Port management to draw the State Government’s attention on the undue delays in completion of port connectivity projects.
Moreover, a letter requesting for intervention from port management to the State Government’s top authority carries more weightage than the normal one.
In a detailed letter on Ennore Manali Road Improvement Project (EMRIP) to State Chief Secretary, Mr. Atulya Misra, Chairman, Chennai Port Trust, recalled the importance of the project and mentioned about the work that is yet to be taken up or completed by the State Government agencies.
EMRIP is being implemented by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for upgrading connectivity to Chennai and Ennore Ports to the National Highway Network. 
This project, in addition to benefitting Chennai Port, would also relieve traffic congestion in North Chennai.

During the course of inspection of the project roads with NHAI, Revenue, TNRDC, CMWSSB, TNEB and other concerned State Government officials in August this year, several hindrances to early completion of the project were noticed and put forward for solution.
In his letter, Mr. Misra said: “In this connection, I wish to bring to your kind notice that this project was scheduled to be completed by June 2013 but due to the hindrances (noticed during inspection), the project is now rescheduled for completion by the end of this year.”

“Further, it is submitted that Chennai Port, which is one of the premier container ports on the East Coast, is experiencing a drop in container volumes since the last financial year, mainly due to the prevailing congestion and inadequate roads linking the port to the hinterland. The stakeholders and port users have been expressing concern in this regard and they apprehend that this declining trend in cargo traffic may continue unless urgent action is taken to improve the road connectivity,” he pointed out in the letter.
The Chairman also observed in the letter that due to the delay in completion of EMRIP, the exporters hitherto using Chennai Port have already begun moving their cargo through private ports in the neighbouring states.

The early completion of EMRIP is vital to the future of container handling in Chennai Port,” Mr. Misra appealed to the Tamil Nadu Government in the letter.

According to sources, the beginning of direct letter correspondence with the State Government would pave way for the Chennai Port management to prevail upon the former on the importance of Chennai Port-Maduravoyal Elevated Expressway, the other important port connectivity project that hangs in balance after the State Government’s intervention.

It may be noted here that the elevated expressway project is stuck for the past 18 months due to lack of communication between the State Government and the port management.
Besides, none of the Chambers of Commerce in the State – whose members are exporters, importers and Custom House Agents – ever raised the issue of undue delay in completion of such important port connectivity project with State Government.

Moreover, at a recent meeting in Chennai, Mr. M. Rafeeque Ahmed, President of Federation of Indian Export Organizations (FIEO) and Chairman of Farida Group, openly blamed the Chambers of Commerce for failing to take up the project with State Government.

Govt indifference cause for Indian shipping industry plight


When global game plan in promoting shipping industry is by attracting investment through tax breaks and sops, India looks the other way and beats itself out of the game by levying around 12 different types of investor-unfriendly taxes on the industry including income, service and MAT that not only scuttle the entrepreneurs interest in the country, but drastically reduce the Indian tonnage, voiced the speakers in unison at the India Shipping Summit 2013 held in Mumbai from Oct. 21 to 23.

Regressive taxation, bureaucratic indifference and governance apathy combined together have reduced the Indian tonnage share from 4.18% in 1960 to 0.79% (roughly 1, 800 ships at now) in world fleet when the global fleet growth on the other hand had zoomed from 36, 000 ships to 1, 25, 000 ships during the same period, they said.

The 12 different types of tax levy including service tax and MAT imposed by the Indian Government hounds the Indian shipping entrepreneurs out to foreign tax havens that pamper them with plethora of concessions. The Shipping Ministry should sit up and take notice as to how the Indian companies are quite successful in countries like Singapore and Cyprus, they rued.

Regressive and repressive tax regime in India has hustled out companies to the aforesaid countries and little surprising that those companies had cosily crossed their corporate growth milestones, besides surpassing their parent entities in India, they exclaimed in despair.

One is tempted to ask how the subsidiary of India’s 3rd largest shipping company, Mercator lines Singapore entity has grown bigger than its Indian parent? Why Tata in partnership with NYK is running its shipping business in Singapore and not operating in India? And why many of the Indian shipping entrepreneurs who had moved abroad are remarkably successful in business than those shipping lines that are incorporated in India? And whether maritime bureaucracy is aware of the flight of flags and the dwindling of tonnage? These are the pathetic questions posed by none other than Mr. Anil Devli, former CEO of INSA.

Shipping entrepreneurs who fled the country to investor-friendly nations unanimously concur that there is lack of strategic vision by the Government in growing the Indian maritime sector, he lamented.

Indian bureaucracy shackles day-to-day economic activity and it is the only bureaucratic machinery in the whole world that has no accountability with constitutional immunity, opined Mr. Ravi Mehrotra, CBE, Executive Chairman, Foresight Group, who has based his business in London and was proud to state that he has not visited any Government office there for approvals and clearances in his shipping business career spanning over 30 years. “Had I started the same company in India, I certainly wouldn’t have reached my present level of growth”, he openly declared.

When world shipping fleet flaunts a staggering 96, 000 vessels, India struggles to stumble past the 2, 000 numbers. Indian industry is still stuck in the state of infancy in both foreign-going and near-coastal trade tonnage. Unless the bureaucratic and political dispensation reform itself and set right the skewed taxations, the country won’t achieve the level playing field with maritime hubs like Singapore, China and Korea, he remarked.

Nurturing the ambition of developing itself as the future maritime hub of the region, India can’t afford to be insensitive to entrepreneur exodus to tax-friendly and flag-flexible destinations like Cyprus, Panama and Singapore, deplored Mr. Nigel Bell, Managing Director, Bell Shipping Ltd. “My first experience in dealing with the Government here took 11 months to get an import licence when it was applied in 1982”, he informed the gathering.

Business-friendly bureaucratic set-up and investment-promoting tax policies should be adopted to increase the India tonnage, he asserted and added that without Indian tonnage growth the dream of maritime hub would never come true. Foster the idea of holistic maritime hub like Singapore and Denmark that have the entire eco-system of lawyers, brokers, P/I club, managers and charterers existing together in the hub eco-system, said Mr. Peter Hinchliffee, OBE, Secretary General, International Chamber of Shipping and International Shipping Federation. Government policies should be in the long term interests of shipping as the commercial contracts entered into are for long-term, he pointed out.

India has an ad hoc ‘band aid’ approach in dealing with the festering issues of the industry, observed Dr. Anil Sharma, Founder-President, and CEO, GMS. “Most of the time our initiatives stop with conferencing and think-tank deliberations and its time that we move to the ‘do-tank’ phase” of it, he stated.

Single handedly countering the bashing of bureaucracy and governance by the industry, Mr. Rajeev Gupta, Chairman, Mumbai Port Trust, advised that the industry should stop its whining, crying and cribbing tone and make concerted attempts to be heard at the decision-making corridors. He underscored that India’s federal system of governance and vote bank democracy also have their roles in the present state of affairs.

ராஜபக்சாவுக்கு கிரீடம் சூட்டும் முயற்சிக்கு வைத்துள்ள ஆப்பு தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவைத் தீர்மானம்: நாம் தமிழர் கட்சி

Source:Naam Tamilar Party statement:

இலங்கையில் தமிழர்கள் சுதந்திரமாகவும், சிங்களவர்களுக்கு இணையாக சம உரிமை பெறும் வரை இலங்கையை காமன்வெல்த் அமைப்பில் இருந்து நீக்கி வைக்க வேண்டும் என்றும், அந்நாட்டுத் தலைநகர் கொழும்பில் நடைபெறவுள்ள காமன்வெல்த் தலைவர்கள் மாநாட்டில் இந்திய பிரதமரோ அல்லது இந்திய அரசுக் குழுவோ கலந்துகொள்ளக் கூடாது என்றும் தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவையில் அனைத்துக் கட்சிகளும் ஒருமனதாக நிறைவேற்றியுள்ள தீர்மானத்தை நாம் தமிழர் கட்சி வரவேற்கிறது.
தமிழ்நாட்டு மக்கள் மட்டுமின்றி, உலகத் தமிழர்கள், மனித உரிமையாளர்கள், அமைப்புகள், கனடா போன்ற ஜனநாயக நாடுகளின் உணர்வுகளை பிரதிபலிக்கும் வகையில் இத்தீர்மானத்தை முன்மொழிந்த தமிழக முதலமைச்சரை நாம் தமிழர் கட்சி பாராட்டுகிறது.

காமன்வெல்த் அமைப்பானது சர்வதேச அரசியலில் எந்த வித முக்கியத்துவமும் இல்லாத ஒரு அமைப்புதான் என்றாலும், அதனை கொழும்புவில் நடத்த அனுமதிப்பதும், காமன்வெல்த் உறுப்பு நாடுகளின் தலைவர்கள் மாநாட்டிற்கு இலங்கை அதிபர் ராஜபக்சாவை தலைமையேற்க அனுமதிப்பதும் காமன்வெல்த் அமைப்பின் அடிப்படை கொள்கைகளுக்கு முரணானதாகும்.
காமன்வெல்த் அமைப்பில் உறுப்பினராக இருக்கும் நாடுகளில் முழுமையான ஜனநாயகம் இருக்க வேண்டும், கருத்துச் சுதந்திரமும், நீதிமன்றங்கள் சுதந்தரமும் இருக்க வேண்டும் என்பதும், ஐ.நா.வால் நிறைவேற்றப்பட்ட மனித உரிமை பிரகடனங்கள் அனைத்தும் முழுமையாக கடைபிடிக்கப்பட வேண்டும் என்பதே அந்த அடிப்படைக் கொள்கைகள் ஆகும். ஆனால், உலகிற்கே தெரியும், மேற்கண்ட கொள்கைகள் எதுவும் இலங்கையில் கடைபிடிக்கப்படுவதில்லை என்பது. இலங்கை அரசால் அந்நாட்டின் பூர்வீகக் குடிகளான தமிழர்கள் திட்டமிட்ட இன அழித்தலுக்கு ஆளாக்கப்பட்டார்கள், இரு நாடுகளுக்கும் இடையிலான போரிலை கூட பயன்படுத்தக் கூடாது என்று அறிவிக்கப்பட்ட இராசயன குண்டுகள், கொத்துக் குண்டுகள் ஆகிய தமிழர்கள் மீது வீசப்பட்டு பல்லாயிரக்கணக்கான தமிழ் மக்கள் கொல்லப்பட்டனர். தமிழ்ப் பெண்கள் கற்பழிக்கப்பட்டனர், சிறுவர்களும், குழந்தைகளும் கூட இரக்கமின்றி படுகொலை செய்யப்பட்டனர்.
90 ஆயிரம் தமிழப் பெண்கள் விதையாகி நிற்கின்றனர். 15 ஆயிரத்திற்கும் மேற்பட்டவர்கள் கொழும்பு நகரில் வெள்ளை வேன்களில் இராணுவத்தினரால் கடத்தப்பட்டுள்ளனர். அவர்களின் கதி என்ன ஆனது என்று இன்று வரை தெரியவில்லை. இப்படிப்பட்ட குற்றச்செயல்களை செய்த நாடு காமன்வெல்த் போன்ற ஒரு ஜனநாயக அமைப்பின் மாநாட்டை நடத்த தகுதி பெற்றதுதானா?  

ராஜபக்ச பதவி ஏற்ற 2006ஆம் ஆண்டிலிருந்து இதுவரை தமிழ், சிங்கள பத்திரிகையாளர்கள் 16 பேர் கொல்லப்பட்டுள்ளனர். தமிழினப் படுகொலைக்கு பயன்படுத்தப்பட்ட இரசாயண ஆயுதங்கள் பற்றி ஆராயச் சென்ற பிரகீத் எக்னெலிகோடா என்கிற சிங்கள பத்திரிகையாளர் உட்பட பலர் கடத்தப்பட்டு காணடிக்கப்பட்டுள்ளனர். ராஜபக்ச அரசின் கொடுங்கோல் ஆட்சிக்கு பயந்து 38 இலங்கை பத்திரிகையாளர்கள் அயல் நாடுகளில் தஞ்சமடைந்துள்ளனர். அந்நாட்டு தலைமை நீதிபதி ராஜபக்சாவால் பதவி நீக்கம் செய்யப்பட்டுள்ளார். இப்படி எல்லா வகையிலும் ஒரு சர்வாதிகார, காட்டாட்சி நடத்திவரும் ராஜபக்சாவை காமன்வெல்த் தலைவர்களின் மாநாட்டுத் தலைமை பதவியில் அமர்த்துவதை ஏற்றுக்கொள்ள முடியுமா?
ஆனால் இந்திய மத்திய காங்கிரஸ் அரசு மட்டும் ராஜபக்ச அரசுக்கு தீவிரமாக முட்டுக்கொடுத்துக்கொண்டு நிற்கிறது. காரணம், ராஜபக்ச அரசின் முப்படைகளும் நடத்திய தமிழின அழிப்பிற்கு துணை நின்றது இந்திய மத்திய காங்கிரஸ் அரசு. தன்னாட்டு மக்கள் மீது பயங்கர ஆயுதங்களை பயன்படுத்தி, அழித்தொழித்த ராஜபக்சவை போர்க் குற்றவாளி என்கிறது உலகம். ஆனால் அவருக்கு ஜனநாயக மகுடம் சூட்ட பார்க்கிறது இந்தியா!

ஒன்றே முக்கால் இலட்சம் தமிழர்கள் அழித்தொழிக்கப்பட்ட போருக்கு ஆதரவு வழங்கி துணை நின்ற இந்திய மத்திய காங்கிரஸ் அரசு, அந்தக் குற்றச் செயல்களில் இருந்து காபாற்ற ராஜபக்சாவுக்கு ஜனநாயக கிரீடம் சூட்ட முயற்சிக்கிறது. அதே நேரத்தில் தமிழர்களுக்கு அதிகார பரவல் பெற்றுத் தர முயற்சிப்பதாகவும் நாடகம் ஆடுகிறது. தமிழின அழித்தலுக்கு துணை போனது மட்டுமின்றி, சர்வதேச அளவில் ராஜபக்ச அரசுக்கு எதிராக வந்த எதிர்ப்பை முனை மழுங்கடித்த இந்திய மத்திய காங்கிரஸ் அரசு, தமிழர்களின் மறுவாழ்விற்கு பல்லாயிரம் கோடி உதவுவதாகவும் பரப்புரை செய்து வருகிறது.

இந்திய மத்திய காங்கிரஸ் அரசின் இந்த இரட்டை நிலைக்கு தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவை நிறைவேற்றிய தீர்மானம் ஆப்பு வைத்துள்ளது. தமிழர்களுக்கு எதிராக இழைக்கபட்ட அநீதியை உண்மையிலேயே எதிர்ப்பதாக இருந்தால், கொழும்பு மாநாட்டில் இந்திய பிரதமர் கலந்துகொள்ளக் கூடாது என்றும், இந்திய அரசு சார்பாக எந்த ஒரு குழுவு்ம் அந்த மாநாட்டில் கலந்துகொள்ளக் கூடாது என்று தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவைத் தீர்மானம் சொல்கிறது. தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவையில் நிறைவேற்றப்பட்ட தீர்மானத்தை உதாசீனப்படுத்திவிட்டு, பிரதமரோ அல்லது இந்திய அரசுக் குழுவோ அல்லது அயலுறவு அமைச்சரோ கொழும்பு காமன்வெல்த் மாநாட்டில் கலந்துகொள்ளவார்களேயானால் அது, அவர்களின் இரட்டை முகத்திரையை தாங்களே அம்பலப்படுத்திக்கொள்வதாக அமையும். எனவே தமிழக சட்டப் பேரவைத் தீர்மானம் வரவேற்பிற்குரியதே.
கொழும்பு மாநாட்டில் கலந்துகொள்வதில்லை என்று கனடா பிரதமர் முடிவெடுத்த அறித்ததுபோல், இங்கிலாந்து உள்ளிட்ட மற்ற காமன்வெல்த் உறுப்பு நாடுகளின் தலைவர்களும் கொழும்பு மாநாட்டில் கலந்துகொள்ளக் கூடாது என்று அந்நாடுகளில் வாழும் தமிழர்கள் போராட வேண்டும் என்றும் நாம் தமிழர் கட்சி வேண்டுகோள் விடுக்கிறது. 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Gwadar Port to be functional in next five months

                                                           Photo credit: www.chinapage.com

Gwadar Port, located on the shores of the Arabian Sea in the western province of Balochistan and developed with huge Chinese investment, will be made fully functional in the next five month’s time, Pakistan’s Minister for Ports and Shipping Senator Kamran Michael has said.

Gwadar Port, which is about 533 km from Karachi and 120 km from Iranian border, is located at the mouth of the Persian Gulf, just outside the Straits of Hormuz, near the key shipping routes in and out of the Persian Gulf.

The Minister made the important announcement about Gwadar Port at the inaugural session of the 3rd International Conference and Exhibition on Shipping, Logistics and Supply Chain Management 2013, organised by the Publicity Channel in collaboration with Ministry of Ports & Shipping, Pakistan International Freight Forwarding Association, Pakistan Shipping Agents Association and Air Cargo Agents Association at Karachi.

Senator Kamran Michael said: “Almost 60 per cent of development work, with specific reference to road infrastructure, has been completed at the site. This port will connect Gulf region and the Middle-East to Southeast Asia and is equally vital for national growth and in securing economy of Pakistan.”

Currently, Pakistan has two main operating international deep-sea ports: Karachi Port and Port Qasim. EXIM experts in the country felt that during the coming years, their capacity expansion programmes are unlikely to keep pace with the expected growth in demand, resulting in a need for a third port to fill the gap.

While Karachi Port has significant physical limitations and will not be able to grow since it is within the city of Karachi itself (something like Chennai Port in Tamil Nadu), Port Qasim, though having a large physical space for expansion, development here is hampered by its up-stream location, which is more than 40 km from the open sea, resulting in long turnaround times for visiting ships.

The Minister on the occasion also announced that the ship breaking industry is being moved to Port Qasim for which 170 acres of land has been earmarked and development work is being carried on.

Addressing the gathering at the event, Mr. Moin A. Malik, Chief Executive Officer, Agility Logistics, said that almost 44 million containers move in Asia between different ports and its biggest volume is 4.5 million tonnes between Europe and  Asia.

Almost 22 times growth is noticed within Asia alone as China’s global trade is estimated at dollars 2.38 trillion by 2012 and the Central Asian trade was 104 billion dollars in 2012, he added.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

JSW Steel commits to export huge quantity of slag through Chennai Port


As an outcome of vigorous marketing from Chennai Port’s Traffic Department over the past few months to get more captive cargo to tide over the looming revenue loss after the Madras High Court ban on coal and iron ore, steel major M/s. JSW Steel Ltd has committed to use the facilities in the port to export Blast Furnace Granulated Slag.

Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, a senior Chennai Port official said that JSW Steel has expressed its ability to export about 40, 000 tonnes of Blast Furnace Granulated Slag every month from Chennai Port. It may be worth recalling at this juncture that JSW Steel is planning to export slag via Chennai after a gap of five years.

Ground-granulated blast-furnace slag (GGBS or GGBFS) is obtained by quenching molten iron slag (a by-product of iron and steel-making) from a blast furnace in water or steam to produce a glassy, granular product that is then dried and ground into a fine powder.

“We expect to handle about 2.5 Lakh tonnes of Blast Furnace Granulated Slag for the remaining period of the current financial year 2013-14,” the port official added.

The commitment for export comes at a time, when the port management was vigorously marketing in different regions and ways for securing more and more captive cargo to tide over the expected revenue loss arising out of a sudden ban by the Madras High Court on handling of dusty cargoes like coal and iron ore.

“Certainly, the new export cargo would help us to improve revenue base and steps are afoot to garner more such export cargo into Chennai Port, so that the impact of that ban remain very minimal,” the official pointed out.

Besides, the availability of more vacant space inside Chennai Port for storage at previously coal-stacking yards near south side of the port also started attracting regular import of Hot Rolled Steel Coils, which rakes in sustained revenue for the management in the last few months.

In the first half, Chennai Port had created a few record handlings, which are seen as a morale booster for the employees of the Port Trust.

About 10, 901 tonnes of granite block was loaded in a single day on April 28 by the vessel MV GRANDE FORTUNA surpassing the previous record handling of 8, 110 tonnes on April 24, 2006 through the vessel MV VOYAGER V.

Besides, 22, 066 tonnes of millscale had been loaded in a single day on May 26 into the vessel MV EMERALD STAR surpassing the previous record handling of 20, 485 tonnes on Nov. 29, 2004 through the vessel MV CHUN HO.

Around 12, 662 tonnes of jumbo barytes had been loaded in a single day on July 11 by the vessel MV KONSTANTINOS surpassing the previous record handling of 9, 051 tonnes on March 30 this year through the vessel MV NORMASA G.

A record of 12, 700 tonnes of gypsum was discharged through the vessel MV Common Faith in a single day on July 25 surpassing the previous record handling of 11, 900 tonnes on July 17, 2012 through the vessel MV GUOYU 51.

Furthermore, 781 tonnes of cement was loaded in a single day on Aug. 29 by the vessel MV GATI PRIDE surpassing the previous record handling of 750 tonnes on Jan. 10, 2011 through the vessel MV  HOA LU.

Similarly, 6, 300 tonnes of sulphur had been discharged in a single day on Sept. 16 by MV TOXOTIS surpassing the previous record handling of 6, 200 tonnes on Feb 10,  2006 by the vessel MV JU BAO MEN.

Further, 13,518 tonnes of HR coil had been loaded (exported) in a single day on Sept. 21 by the vessel MV Trade Star surpassing the previous record loading of 10, 849 tonnes on Feb, 9 this year through the vessel MV Marietta.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

7 ships detained for MLC-related deficiencies in first month of implementation


During the first month of implementation of the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC, 2006), seven ships were detained for MLC-related deficiencies.
On Aug 20 this year, MLC, 2006 entered into force and became a relevant instrument for the Paris MoU, thus making the MLC requirements officially subject to Port State Control (PSC).
According to a latest media release, it means that 10% of the total number of detentions (68) in the Paris MoU area in this period was MLC 2006 related.
The detentions were imposed by four different port States: Canada (two ships), Denmark, the Russian Federation and Spain (three ships). The detained ships were flying the flag of Cyprus (two ships), Liberia, the Netherlands, Panama (two ships) and Tanzania.

A total of 4,260 deficiencies have been recorded during the first month of MLC implementation. About 490 deficiencies out of the 4,260 recorded (11.5%) were related to any of the ILO Conventions listed as relevant instrument.
Of the 494 deficiencies, 30 (6,1%) were considered to be serious enough to be a ground for detention. 23 of those 30 (76.7%) were related to breaches of the MLC and resulted in the detention of seven  individual ships.

Pic courtesy: http://www.safety4sea.com/
The total number of detentions was 68 during 1,532 inspections, which resulted in a detention rate of 4,4%.
The MLC, 2006 applies to all ships engaged in commercial activities. International certification is required for all ships of 500GT and over, making international voyages. 
The requirements of the MLC, 2006 have to be implemented on board at the entry into force date 20 August 2013.
Only the member States of the Paris MoU who have ratified the MLC,2006 on or before 20 August 2012 are entitled to conduct PSC inspections on MLC, 2006 requirements from 20 August 2013. As a result the twelve member States -- Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Russian Federation, Spain and Sweden --have started enforcing the MLC  2006.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Chennai Custom House Agents stage demo

With a view to drawing the attention of the top brass of Chennai Customs Commissionerate over undue delay in processing import bills, hundreds of representatives and field-staff of Chennai Custom House Agents staged an attention-seeking demonstration on Oct. 7.

The representatives were forced to stage a demonstration in front of the Chennai Customs Commissionerate gate, as the processing of import bill by the Chennai Customs officials has now been prolonged to a week against the earlier practice of a maximum 48 hours.

According to a CHA representative, who participated in the token attention-seeking demonstration, officials of the Chennai Customs are deliberately delaying the process due to different reasons.

Speaking to Sagar Sandesh, the representative said: “Though the Commissionerate is among the few in the country, which gets good revenue year after year, shortage of field officers for verifying imported containers and processing those bills has brought the whole process to a standstill.

It may be worth recalling here that the Chennai Customs Commissionerate’s revenue collection (including both sea and air) remains at around Rs. 20, 000 crores annually over the past few years. And for the first six months (up to Oct. 9, 2013) in the current financial year, the Commissionerate had collected revenue of about Rs. 12, 606 crores.

“When they (Customs) get these much revenue from Chennai, why are they delaying the processing of verifying imported consignments and bills, which could eat into their revenue collections,” lamented another CHA representative.

Besides Air Customs, Chennai has more than 30 Container Freight Stations (CFSs) to cater to the demand of EXIM fraternity’s sea freight requirements.

However, shortage of designated officers has forced the Chennai Customs top brass to post a single officer for processing import bills in four or five CFSs. Due to such a commitment the Customs officials are unable to process more bills everyday and it has badly affected the whole process.

“We earnestly appeal to the Chief Commissioner of Customs to see our plight and appoint more officials at all CFSs, so that import segment does not suffer,” said the agitators.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Port Blair air travel expensive

By S. Sujatha 

If there is one air route in India that helps airlines make a lot of money, it has to be the trip to Port Blair from the mainland.
The airfare for the two-hour trip from Chennai to Port Blair has suddenly shot up to Rs 19,000-Rs 24,000 bracket one way. A few tickets are also priced at Rs 30,590 one way non­-­stop from Che­n­nai to Port Blair.

“For this money, we could have travelled to Singapore or made a full round trip from Chennai to Mumbai to Delhi and back,” said an air passenger. According to Andaman-n­a­t­ive Naga Jothi, who is now settled in Ch­ennai.

“Even though the regular fare to An­da­man is only around Rs 6,000 one way, I was re­­­ady to pay till Rs 10,000 due to festival se­ason. But Rs 20,000 is way above my budget,” she added.
Similarly, Radha Ramesh, another And­aman native married in Chennai, said, “Earlier, we used to travel by sea, but now, especially after two children, I prefer to go by air. But this exorbitant airfare is dissuading me to visit my mother’s home,” she added.

A senior official in Air In­dia said the de­m­and was more in Oc­tober due to puja festival and so not many are able to travel in discounted fares.  
When contacted, a senior official in the civil aviation ministry told Deccan Chronicle that since Andaman sector didn’t have enough cap­acity, the airfare was inflated.

“We are able to understand the pr­o­blem of  passengers. We will talk to DGCA and try to push down the pr­ic­es,” the official added.