Port Wings News Network:
Shipping Ministry is taking all efforts to make the Union Government-run major ports the real gateway of growth for our country, Minister of State for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping Mr Pon Radhakrishnan has said.
In an exclusive interview to Port Wings, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “Not only we are focusing on modernizing and equipping the major ports to meet the growing demands from Exim fraternity thus becoming real gateways, but also helping the non-major ports (minor ports in the administrative control of State governments) to become engines of growth for the nation.”
UNIFORM DRAFT ACROSS THE COUNTRY:
Mr Radhakrishnan stated: “For ports to remain efficient and commercially successful, they need good draft to accommodate bigger ships. Shipping Ministry is embarked on a mission to make all major ports in the country to possess a minimum draft of 18 mtrs. It will give the ports an additional advantage to accommodate larger ships now available in container and breakbulk segment s.”
CAPACITY ADDITION IN PORTS:
Besides focusing on importance of draft requirements, the Minister emphasized on capacity addition in all major ports.
Mr Radhakrishnan said, “Draft alone cannot bring ships to wharves. What we need is the efficiency to handle more cargoes at the ports. Most of the Chinese ports, despite stiff competition among themselves in garnering cargoes, are thriving only because of their efficiency in handling cargoes. Keeping in the mind, Shipping Ministry has launched several programmes to improve the efficiency of our major ports. Once these projects are in place, it would not only improve them to increase their revenue stream, also fuel the country’s economic growth.”
SIMPLIFICATION OF RULES:
While draft requirement and capacity addition in ports has been taken care of, the other important issue is the redundant as well as procedural hurdles in getting in more vessels into the ports, feels Mr Radhakrishnan.
He said, “When the Shipping Ministry began analyzing the existing rules in the sector to improve Ease of Doing Business, we found so many archaic rules that were hampering growth. Since then, our Ministry has worked out on how to weed them out. Based on that, we introduced new rules to sync with contemporary times and requirements of the trade.”
“Recently, our Ministry eased cabotage law for allowing some categories of foreign-registered ships to operate on local routes in a bid to help shift cargo movement away from road and rail to the coastal route,” he added.
IMPORTANCE OF SHIPYARDS:
Speaking about the importance of shipyards, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “Time and again we receive feedback from the trade that India lacks in shipyards and it cost them dearly. In line with the trade’s expectation, our Ministry simplified the procedure for registration of Ship Repair Units. The move would help setting up of ship-repair units. What I suggest is every major port should allocate some space in their areas to set up such shipyards.”
“It will not only maximize employment potential, but also help the shipping lines to plan accordingly,” he added.
NEED FOR INTEGRATED ADMINISTRATION:
On the need for integrated administration, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “Besides all those issues we have discussed earlier, having an integrated administration, where all the stakeholders linked to exim trade, be it Customs or Plant Quarantine or FSSAI or Drug Controller, has become paramount to achieve the targets of Ease of Doing Business initiative. Though the Central Board of Excise and Customs has a setup of Customs Clearance Facilitation Committee (CCFC), we want it from the port side as they are the real gateway for the trade.”
TARIFF REGULATIONS CONUNDRUM:
On a question about the missing level-playing field between major and non-major ports, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “It is true that there is no level playing field among major and non-major ports. While tariff in the major ports (except Kamarajar Port) are governed by TAMP regulations, non-major ports have the flexibility and liberty to fix their tariffs based on prevailing market conditions. Most of the time, the very tariff proves detrimental to the growth of major ports and in turn it becomes advantage for non-major ports. While we want all the ports in the country, including non-major ports, to grow and aid country’s growth, Shipping Ministry is seized of the tariff barrier matter. Very soon, that anomaly would be cleared.”
DEVELOPMENT OF COLACHEL PORT:
On a question about the development of Colachel Port, Mr Radhakrishnan said, “The Colachel Port, located at Kanyakumari District in Tamil Nadu, is close to the international shipping route and has enough draft for establishing an international standard port with all modern facilities.”
“A fully developed Colachel Port would not only pave way for quick economic growth in Southern Tamil Nadu as well as parts of Kerala through industrial clusters, but also help to generate more jobs in the region,” he added.