ICT model port outdated for India: Shipping expert

Madurai: International Container Transshipment Port is an outdated model unsuitable for a country like India, said R N Joe D’ Cruz, activist, writer and an expert in logistics & shipping. The country with its rich hinterland productivity should develop its own model for shipping and not just replicate others, he said while addressing a session on ‘Economic Viability of Enayam Port’ at Fatima College here on Wednesday.

Cruz said that India’s regional mega and major ports as well as their respective hinterlands were capable of inviting container mother vessels if their capacities were enhanced and operating systems revived on par with global standards. He said the “Make in India” initiative would further strengthen the regional hinterlands and make their respective ports perform.

However, the shipping and port management suffered administrative red tapism and lengthy procedural requirements. Hence, most Indian ship owners preferred to register their ships outside the country even in smaller nations like Malta, Panama and Honduras.

He said there was no encouragement from the government for small vessel operators. Every port and its departments functioned as islands without connecting with the other, least bothered about collective responsibility in the overall development. At the same time, other countries did not register their ships in India.
“India being a multi-faceted economy needed to understand its role in the international shipping. The entire country is used by the neighbouring countries’ port operators as their hinterland,” Cruz pointed out.

On Enayam international container transshipment port, he said land had to be reclaimed from sea to set up transshipment terminal, which would lead to space shortage in coming years. With so much reclamation, the entire marine wealth would witness irreparable damage. The continental shelf from Kanyakumari – Neerodi where Enayam falls was immaculate without destructive fishing and thickly populated with fisherfolk. Promoters proposed to construct berths at a distance of 2 nautical miles from the shoreline, for a maximum depth of 20 meters indicating that depth was not available onshore. Considering ship’s buoyancy requirement of 2 meters under keel clearance, the available draft would be only 18 metres at Enayam. Due to rocky bottom future deepening would not be possible.
He pointed to Vallarpadam, the much vaunted container transshipment terminal in Kochi, as an indication of things to come. “This terminal is not even able to operate 30% of its own designed capacity even after getting various promotional schemes including relaxation of Cabotage Law,” he said.

Source: Times of India. Date: October 20 2016