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Time to expand shipbuilding facilities, says Baalu

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(From right to left) Mr T.R. Baalu, Shipping Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, Kerala Chief Minister, Mr K.P. Sasidharan, senior-most employee of CSL, Commodore M Jitendran, CMD, CSL, and Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Naval Staff, at the steel cutting ceremony of the first indigenous aircraft carrier for Indian Navy at Cochin Shipyard Ltd in Kochi on Monday. K.K. Mustafah
(From right to left) Mr T.R. Baalu, Shipping Minister, Mr Oommen Chandy, Kerala Chief Minister, Mr K.P. Sasidharan, senior-most employee of CSL, Commodore M Jitendran, CMD, CSL, and Admiral Arun Prakash, Chief of Naval Staff, at the steel cutting ceremony of the first indigenous aircraft carrier for Indian Navy at Cochin Shipyard Ltd in Kochi on Monday. K.K. Mustafah

Our Bureau

Kochi, April 11

THE Union Shipping Ministry intends to encourage setting up of two new international size shipyards as well as expansion and modernisation of existing shipyards to trigger the growth of the shipbuilding industry under the new maritime policy regime, Mr T.R. Baalu, Shipping Minister, has said.

It is high time to expand the facilities of shipbuilding and ship repair as soon as possible considering the 29 per cent growth rate in the industry world over, the Minister said at a press meet here on Monday.

"We are inviting private investment and foreign direct investment as we are determined to use the present global shipbuilding scenario fully to make India a vibrant shipbuilding nation," he said.

Mr Baalu pointed out that China had embarked on a major shipbuilding programme by laying down directives for the shipbuilding industry and has identified three regions for shipbuilding in that country.

The Shipping Ministry has a similar vision for India and wanted to develop two or three shipbuilding hubs in the country to give boost to the industry, he said adding, that steps have been taken for the revival of Hindustan Shipyard Ltd (HSL) and the Hooghly Dock and Port Engineers Ltd.

The global trade requirements are continuously improving in favour of bigger vessels and, therefore, the Ministry wanted the shipyards to take urgent steps to acquire the capacity to construct very large crude carriers, implement ship repair expansion projects in the existing facilities and also build additional infrastructure to simultaneously cater to the requirement of Merchant Navy, he said.

The Minister said that Korea has 40 per cent of market share in shipbuilding followed by Japan with 34 per cent and China with 15 per cent. However, Korea has only 14 shipyards but they are much bigger in size compared to that of the Japanese or Chinese yards. India is way behind with only eight yards. This number is also a bit misleading as only yards Cochin Shipyard Ltd (CSL) and HSL are capable of building average and above average size of ocean-going merchant vessels.

According to Mr Baalu, CSL is exploring possibilities of additional infrastructure creation in the same premises and is also looking at the area earmarked in the Vallarpadam project for creation of a greenfield international class modern shipyard, which could compare with any other shipyards in the world.

Referring to the port sector, Mr Baalu said that the Indian ports had handled 383.77 million tonne of traffic in 2004-05, a growth rate of 11.3 per cent, which is the maximum in the last 10 years. A comprehensive maritime policy is being formulated in the Ministry. To give concrete shape to the vision and strategy laid down in the maritime policy, a National Maritime Development Policy, with an estimated investment of Rs 1 lakh crore (Rs 60,000 crore for ports and Rs 40,000 crore for shipping sector), is likely to be launched soon.

He stated that the environmental clearance for the Sethusamudram ship channel project, a long-standing proposal to provide continuous navigational channel between the East and West coasts of the country, has been received on March 31.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated April 12, 2005)
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