· There are plans to start a passenger cruise service from Ennore (Chennai), linking up tourist destinations such as Mahabalipuram, Puducherry, Kanyakumari, and Rameswaram, said Mr M. A. Bhaskarachar, Chairman and Managing Director of Kamarajar Port Ltd. “We have also entered into an agreement with the Government of Puducherry to develop the Port there,” he added, in the course of his special address at the inaugural session of the two-day conference on ‘Approach to Integrated Maritime Systems’ (AIMS) organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Southern Region, in association with National Maritime Foundation (NMF).
Lauding the comprehensive coverage of the conference schedule, Mr Bhaskarachar said that the Sagar Mala project currently being discussed is about port-led development of the regions in an integrated manner, with a maritime authority at the apex level for single-window clearance. “At Kamarajar Port, the growth has been phenomenal. Last year, the growth was 50 per cent. We will be constructing five more berths to add capacity,” he informed.
· Reminding the audience about the ancient glories of India in maritime, Commodore K. Subramaniam, Chairman and Managing Director, Cochin Shipyard Ltd, said that the oldest dry dock in the world is in Gujarat. Fast-forwarding to current times, he underlined that we have moved from being predominantly a buyer of ships to now building the same, indigenously. Giving examples from around the world on how the growth of ship building has benefited from state support, he highlighted the need to revive Indian ship building industry. “This has the potential to be a mother industry that can kick-start the ‘Make in India’ initiative of the new government,” said Mr Subramaniam.
· The special address by Dr Vijay Sakhuja, Director, National Maritime Foundation, drew the attention of the audience to the Chola supremacy in the seas, a thousand years ago. “Sea ports play a critical role in the country’s development. Ship building industry acts as a catalyst for growth,” he noted. Citing statistics such as that 97 per cent of India’s foreign trade by volume and 75 per cent by value are carried by merchant vessels, Dr Sakhuja acknowledged the high demand for Indian maritime talent both within the country and abroad.
· The speech by the guest of honour, Inspector General S. P. Sharma, Commander, Coast Guard Region (East), began by outlining the 70-80-90 concept. “70 refers to the percentage of world’s surface covered by the ocean; 80 refers to the percentage of the world’s population moving closer to the ocean’s littoral, and the majority of the world’s major cities, industry, and urban population are fast developing within 200 kms of the coast; and 90 refers to the percentage of international trade by weight and volume, carried over the oceans,” he explained.
Stating that, since time immemorial, the Indian Ocean has been the primordial artery carrying trade and commerce for the global economy, Mr Sharma said that the ocean has become the principal conveyor belt for the international crude and coal trade. “These crisscrossing arteries are here only to increase due to the ever emerging newer ports and the ever increasing modern day energy needs. Safety of SLOCs (sea-lines-of-communication) is one of the foremost factors in the maritime security matrix,” he said.
Mr Sharma said, in the context of the unfolding attention in deep sea mining. “The polymetallic nodules and polymetallic massive sulphides are the two mineral resources of primary interest to developers in the Indian Ocean. Other minerals include coastal sediments containing titanium and zirconium. The future maritime security challenges are likely to revolve around this type of exploration,” he added.
· Earlier, delivering the welcome address, Mr Ravichandran Purushothaman, Chairman, CII Chennai Zonal Council and President, Danfoss Industries Pvt Ltd, noted that a sound maritime infrastructure plays an important role in the pace, structure and pattern of our economic development. The conference seeks to find answers to questions such as what the linkages are between our maritime research institutions and the industry, and where we stand in the field of offshore energy technologies, he said.
· Commodore (Retd) S Shekhar, Regional Director, National Maritime Foundation and Ms Meghana P Shekhar, a Tsunami Survivor also spoke.
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