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`Building small ships is big opportunity for India'

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Kochi can be developed along the lines of Singapore but what is needed is vision to translate potential into reality. -- MR SOHAN ROY S.K., CEO, ARIES MARINE AND ENGINEERING SERVICES

Mr Sohan Roy S.K.
Mr Sohan Roy S.K.

V.Sajeev Kumar

Mr Sohan Roy S.K.

, CEO ofAries Marine and Engineering Services, a UAE-based ship design consultancy firm,sees a lot of opportunities for Kochi in the coming years on account of the developmental activities initiated by the Cochin Port Trust. Mr Roy, who also heads Marine Biz TV, a maritime channel, told Business Line that there should be vision to convert the opportunities into reality for the benefit of the entire region.

Excerpts from an interview:

Could you tell us about your company's activities?

Aries Marine and Engineering Services is a multi-function company in West Asia with a market share of 70 per cent in consultancy, marine engineering, ultrasonic thickness gauging and non-destructive testing. It provides a range of technical consultancy and project management services to the maritime industry, offshore and shore-based, worldwide. Our work is extensive and covers common ship types from the largest crude and product tankers, LPG carriers, reefers, containerships, offshore structures, ro-ro passenger ships, coastal vessels to support craft vessels such as barges, tugs and pontoons. Right now, we are carrying out work worth $1 billion for shipping companies at various locations, including China, Turkey, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

Kochi's potential in maritime activity...

Things are going to change soon not only in Kochi but also the entire region with the setting up of the international container transhipment terminal by the Cochin Port Trust. Moreover, projects identified by the port such as bunkering terminal, marina for luxury yacht, etc, will bring more foreign exchange into the country. The city can offer a lot in maritime-related activities.

Kochi can be developed along the lines of Singapore but what is needed is vision to translate potential into reality.

As Kochi is close to the international shipping route, setting up bunkering terminal can attract more ships to the region.

Likewise, the establishment of marina for luxury yachts will benefit the international yachting industry, as it is considered to be the most money spending industry worldwide. Besides, Kochi can offer a good platform for ship management agency considering the increasing number of seafarers in the region. Ship management is a booming business worldwide and there are more than 200 such agencies in Singapore and Hong Kong offering various services, such as finding crew for ship owners, operations of vessels, dry-docking, etc.

Potential of inland water transport...

Kerala offers much potential in the development of waterways, for both cargo and passenger movement. However, slow travelling speeds are a deterrent, especially in ferrying passengers. Most countries in Europe deploy faster crafts with speed of 14 nautical miles per hour to carry passengers. Such crafts should be introduced here to draw people to this mode of transport. People now opt for road transport because water transport is more time-consuming. The Government should also encourage cargo movement through inland water to decongest our roads. Water transport is the cheapest mode and most countries depend much on waterways to move cargo.

What about garbage management plan for the backwaters?

We carried out a garbage management plan in Cochin Port's dredger Nehru Shatabdi last year, which was subsequently approved by the Director-General of Shipping. There should be a specific plan to disperse garbage from houseboats and other crafts plying in the backwaters. It is estimated that around 20 kg of waste is generated by each houseboat, despoiling the backwaters.

There should be a proper waste treatment facility in every craft and the government should make such a provision mandatory.

What is the potential for small ship construction?

India can do wonders in the construction of small as well as big ships as the yards here have more facilities compared to other shipyards in the world. With vision, and total control of the workforce, the yards here can easily attract work orders from abroad. The construction of a series of ships by Cochin Shipyard Ltd for the Bahamas-based Clipper Group in record time is an example.

At present the work order position of most yards worldwide is full and ship-owners are looking for suitable yards to construct smaller ships. Indian yards should grab this opportunity.

About Marine Biz TV...

It is a global maritime channel with Dubai as its headquarters. It will give viewers insight into the maritime world using new media technology. It is committed to the development and integration of information and activities relating to the maritime industry. The objective is to provide a supportive platform to professionals with regard to opportunities and developments in the sector. In the first phase, the channel will cover Europe, Asia, the Asia-Pacific, West Asia and African marine markets. Later it will diversify into eight different languages and all over the globe. There is also a special tie-up for availability in sailing ships.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated June 4, 2007)
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