Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ports may be thrown open to students


If the Union Shipping Ministry’s plan envisaged to bridge the awareness gap between ports and civil society sail through, country’s 12 Major Ports would get new visitors other than exporters, importers, stevedores, Custom House Agents – school students, in the coming weeks.

Speaking to reporters here on Nov. 18 after launching Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects of Ennore Port worth more than Rs. 2 crores, Union Shipping Minister G. K. Vasan said that he would hold talks with his (Shipping) Secretary, Joint Secretaries and the Chairmen of all Central Government-run ports in this regard soon. He was responding to an instant on-stage request made by Mr. N.  Muruganandam, Joint Secretary (Shipping), Government of India.

While addressing the beneficiaries at the event, Mr. Muruganandam, quoting a Media report which detailed that more than 10, 000 people (mostly students) had visited Chennai Lighthouse in the first four days of opening for public itself, opined that ports should also be opened for school students, so that the lack of knowledge among the general public and civil society about the silent growth engine to any country could be eradicated.

Honestly admitting about his view on ports, Mr. Muruganandam said: “Prior to joining this (Shipping) department, I have not seen a vessel or the port. We had seen a portion of the harbour in fight sequences in many movies. School children should be allowed to visit the ports so that they can improve their knowledge about the port and how it plays a role of harbinger of growth to any country.

Reacting positively to the valid request by senior Shipping Ministry official, Mr. Vasan, while addressing reporters later, stated: “No doubt, it (port) is a highly guarded place. Firstly, we would like to have safety measures in place, before letting the school children to have a glimpse of the port.” A positive decision will be taken very soon in this regard, he added.

It may be noted here that other than professionals linked to seaborne trade, common people or school students rarely get an opportunity to visit port and see the cargo loading and unloading activities.

If the proposal sails through and students get an opportunity to visit ports, it would surely change their pre-conceived ideas about ports and EXIM sectors among them in a positive way, said a senior port official.

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