The Directorate General of Shipping Mr. G.S. Sahni has decided to restrict ageing foreign vessels along with Indian vessels entering Indian waters. This decision was taken to prevent possible environment hazard from sub-standard foreign ships calling at Indian Ports. Also this would remove the discrimination against foreign vessels and bring conformity with International rules. However the Indian shipping industry is divided over the proposal to bring domestic vessels under the guidelines of age norms. A small sub-committee comprising representatives from Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA) has been formed by DG to handle the issues involved and give recommendations. The INSA delegations are not affected by the decision. GE Shipping and Essar Shipping are affected by the decision as they have modern fleet. But, SCI and small entities like Varun are opposed to bringing Indian Vessels under the guidelines issued. The meeting of INSA sub committee was held whereby the decision on broad countours of the common guidelines was agreed upon, which were applicable to Foreign and Indian vessels. The DG will shortly come out with new guidelines with amendments in the circular applicable to all owners whether domestic or foreign.
According to the West Bengal Government, P& O are yet to decide their participation in the Kulpi project. The matter is being discussed between the senior officer of P&O and the government. P&O Ports felt that the road connectivity is inadequate. The present roads are narrow and lay through the congested areas, which are unsuitable for the port purpose. The connectivity plays a crucial role not only for the movement of traffic to and from the port but also for the special economic zone for which a land area of 1000 hectares is to be acquired, which is proposed to be a part of the project. However, Government has long term plans for the wide roads construction to Kulpi.
The Jawaharlal Nehru port authorities are making efforts to expand the cargo-handling at JN Port and also the privately owned Nhava Sheva International Container terminal (NSICT). This would significantly ease the congestion at the two terminals. The port is in process to complete the third container terminal project by December and set up a fourth project on BOT basis. Port is planning to take a 700 crore project to deepen the entrance channel to enable bigger vessels to come to the port and has approached the Central Government for providing financial assistance. Also they have decided to increase the quay length, which can handle an additional traffic of 50000 TEUs. Concor has deployed additional trains on the Dronagiri route so that cargos at JN Port and NSICT can be cleared simultaneously. Also additional lanes have been opened for loading outgoing traffic rakes. The custom authority is also procuring two scanners, which will help the cargo save time on manual checking of the containers.
According to Mr. S.K.Jain, MD of LMJ International Ltd, the allotment of rakes by railways is insufficient. Not more than 2-3 rakes a month were available for transportation from Punjab to Haryana. Allotment of rakes to western coast ports is more than compared to eastern ports. The Union Shipping Minister Mr. Shatrughan Sinha has personally written to Railway Minister, requesting to allot more no. of rakes to facilitate food grains movement for exports. He also suggested that the exports to Korea and Far East, if routed through Kidderpore Dock would be cheaper and the shipment time would be shorter. The Chairman of Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT), denies that the allotment of rakes is insufficient due to turnaround time vis-ŕ-vis the west coast ports. According to him railways had no system of allotting rakes towards Kolkata port because the port never handled food grains exports before. He says that the order for the mobile harbour crane would be placed in a month and equipment would be delivered in another six months.
FPS (Famous Pacific Shipping) is strengthening its operations in India. FPS even though having the potential has felt the need of a local expert who can understand the complicated market for the smooth and successful operation. They have appointed a Mumbai based LCL Group to act as the Representative for them. LCL Group, like other agents of FPS has the knowledge and expertise to generate business opportunities for its customers. LCL is expected to negotiate favorable rates & retain cargo control throughout the transport chain.
In the current fiscal year an incremental container traffic of about 6 lakh TEU is expected at JNPT. JNPT is already bursting and can technically accommodate only 1 lakh TEUs. It means 5 lakh TEUs have to find an alternative option. The shippers are already aware of the fact. Nhava Sheva International Container Terminal (NSICT) is already full. The analysis made by NSICT has shown that the cargo at the terminal is dominated by origin/ destination cargo to about 62 %, followed by ICD (Inland Cargo Depot) cargo by 28% and transhipment cargo by 10%. As the cargo has increased and the licensed premises of the terminal is limited, one type of cargo is trying to push out other type of cargo. Normally, ICD containers moved out of the terminal after two days, which yielded the yard inventory of about 2000 to 2500 TEUs on ground for ICD. But today ICD boxes have increased to, between 4000 to 6000 TEUs. This has blocked additional 5 to 6 yards. This resulted in closing cargo for export in July on three occasions. Also the receiving time is reduced from seven days to three days.
The Maritime Union of India (MUI), which controls marine officers employed on Indian ships, demanded a hike of 50% rise in their monthly wages which has been pending for more than a year. The union was ready to accept minimum 9.5% hike under the NMB agreement six months ago. The fresh agreements were delayed. The Shipowners demanded one-year moratorium for the new wage pact, which was not accepted by MUI. To secure its demands MUI took the help of National Union of seafarers and other affiliates to go for industrial action. They gave five days notice to INSA. But to their surprise SC orders of banning the strike by trade unions and government employees came like an unexpected storm to seafarers. It was not clear whether SC orders were applicable to them, but strike came to a halt. According to the Chairman, Wage Negotiation Committee of INSA, the SC orders are applicable to all trade unions controlling government and private employees. He also feels that the proposed 5% hike is reasonable in the existing circumstances. The private company officers get 15-20% surplus on their prevailing scales.
The decision of restricting the age of foreign flagged tankers is been re-examined due to protest against International Regime Maritime Ports. The circular to ban all foreign crude, product and chemical tankers that are over 25 years and gas tankers over 30 years from entering Indian waters are reviewed. Also tankers above 20 years, which do not have the Condition Assessment Programme2 (CAP2) rating for hull, machinery and cargo equipment, would also be banned. The maritime regulator will come out with a fresh circular amending the earlier decision. The Shipping Ministry has declined to interfere in the issue to prevent a head clash. The Ministry was annoyed with the way DG has issued the circular. Moreover, they have asked to explain the discriminatory nature of the circular, which was applicable only in chartering of foreign tankers while sparing Indian Vessels from the decision in view of the 1926 Statute, which enshrines the principle of reciprocity and equality of treatment. The DGS official, however, said that very few countries have ratified the 1926 Statute and is debatable whether the statute has been violated. As per the statute every contracting state has sovereign rights to deny equality of treatment to other contracting state. The DGS was of the view that the decision was not to discriminate against foreign vessels but to protect the country’s coastal waters. International Association Of Independent Tankers Owners protested the age restriction, but Indian shipping industry was quiet on the same.