India launched a real-time vessel tracking system that can help seafarers and fishermen in the times of need. Apart from tracking Indian vessels globally, it can also track foreign vessels within 1,000-km of India’s coastline.

To be operated by DG Shipping, the system is termed Sagar-Manthan: Mercantile Marine Domain Awareness Centre (MMDAC) and can organise help in case of emergency. India is sharing this system with Sri Lanka and the Maldives, said Anil Devli, CEO, Indian National Shipowners Association.

The MMDAC facility also has elements of security, for which DG Shipping collaborates with the Indian Navy, said Amitabh Kumar, DG-Shipping.

This was launched by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of Maritime India Summit. “Mega ports with world-class infrastructure are being developed at Vadhavan, Paradip and Deendayal Port in Kandla.…Domestic waterways are found to be a cost effective and environment friendly way of transporting freight. We aim to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030,” said Modi.

“The Eastern Waterways Connectivity Transport Grid for regional connectivity with Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar will be strengthened for effective regional trade and cooperation,” said Prime Minister Modi.

Addressing another session, Shipping Minister Mansukhlal Mandaviya said that India is looking to develop water-based based connectivity with Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar, on the lines of what it has done with Bangladesh.

RO-RO projects

To boost ease of living, Ro-Ro (Roll-on/Roll-off), and passenger ferry projects and 16 water-dromes to enable sea-plane operations are being developed. Steps are also being taken to introduce urban water transport systems in key States and cities such as Kochi, Mumbai, Gujarat and Goa.

To ensure that work relating to the maritime sector does not happen in silos, PM said that the Ministry of Shipping’s ambit was widened and it will strive for excellence in maritime shipping and navigation, education and training for the mercantile marine, ship-building and ship-repair industry, ship-breaking, fishing vessels industry and floating craft industry.

The Ministry of Port Shipping and Waterways has created a list of 400 investable projects, said the PM adding that these projects have an investment potential of ₹2.25-lakh crore.

Anne H Stevensen, DG and CEO, Danish Shipping, a trade body of Denmark, wondered how seafarers could be prioritised for Covid-19 vaccination so that they are safe. The biggest challenge as Covid-19 hit was not falling cargo volumes or low trade but the inability to take care of key assets — sea-farers, she added