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Sharp growth seen in shipping tonnage

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Mr P.K. Srivastava (right), President, Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA), with Mr Yudhishthir D. Khatau, Vice-President, at a press conference in Mumbai. — Shashi Ashiwal

Mumbai Dec. 3

WITH the Indian shipping industry acquiring over 1.5 million GRT (gross registered tonnage) to its fleet during the last one year, the Indian National Shipowners Association (INSA) has projected that if this trend in tonnage acquisition were to continue, India could well cross the 10-million GRT mark and subsequently emerge in the list of top 10 maritime nations in the near future.

According to the INSA's latest annual report, released in Mumbai on Thursday, the strength of the Indian fleet increased from 616 ships of 6.18 million GRT as on March 31, 2003 to 665 ships of 7.69 million GRT as on October 1 this year. With the recent introduction of the new tonnage tax regime, INSA expects to record a sharper growth in shipping tonnage in the next fiscal, apart from enhancing the possibilities of FDIs in this sector.

Talking to presspersons, Mr P.K. Srivastava, Chairman of Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) and President of INSA, said that the share of Indian ships in the carriage of the country's overseas trade has been declining over the years.

"This trend continued in 2002-03, with the share of Indian lines in the country's overseas trade having fallen to around 15.1 per cent. While the total volume of trade moving in India's overseas trade has slightly increased during the year from 273.04 million tonnes to 280.34 million tonnes, the volume of cargo carried by Indian ships came down from 46.30 million tonnes to 42.43 million tonnes," he pointed out.

According to him, one of the factors responsible for the trend is that Indian ship owners are now increasingly developing a global outlook and looking for global cargoes.

Mr Srivastava said INSA had engaged the services of Tata Economic Consultancy Services for assisting in preparation of a draft offshore maritime policy, as advised by the working group on the subject set up by the Ministry of Shipping.

"We do not have a separate offshore maritime policy, despite the increasing activities in this sector. We expect the draft policy to be ready shortly," he said.

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