The Directorate General of Shipping has formed a 40-member advisory board comprising officials from Shipping Ministry, Shipping Corporation of India, Indian Maritime University and other industry stakeholders to address “issues and challenges faced” by the sector. Also included is forming a strategy to deal with “geo-political challenges” that include maritime security and international relations.

The committee has been mandated to work on issues relating to fleet modernisation (dealing with ageing vessels, technological upgrade across fleet, etc), infrastructure development — that include port development and modernisation; improved logistics connectivity — and look into issues of access to capital.

According to the Ministry of Shipping, the India’s merchant shipping fleet is around 1,500 vessels with gross tonnage of 14 million tonnes (mt). The average age of the fleet is around 18 years. Sources said, nearly two-thirds of India’s domestically flagged vessels are engaged in coastal shipping

The advisory board will also be looking into ways to take on global competition by working out subsidies and incentives, among others. It will look into suggestions on manpower training and skilling formulate and review green shipping policies.

India is the third-largest provider of seafarers worldwide, following China and the Philippines, representing 9.35 per cent of the global seafaring population. The country has a 30 per cent-odd market share in ship-breaking industry with Alang in Gujarat being the largest facility globally.

In total, there are sixteen broader points — that also include interacting with “lead consultants” in case of tech-driven initiatives; take the lead in representing India in international maritime conferences and also advise on the approach to be taken at international forums.

“Coordinated efforts from the government, private sector and international partners are needed to create a robust, modern and competitive maritime industry. The future of India’s maritime sector depends on its ability to adapt to technological advancements, regulatory changes and global market dynamics while fostering sustainable and inclusive growth,” an order from the DG – Shipping issued earlier this month said.

The DG Shipping is an attached office of the Union Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways; and deals with all executive matters, relating to merchant shipping.

Appointment of Maritime Experts

The order also provides for appointment of subject experts who would further assist the advisory board. At present, there are eight such experts who have been appointed.

“Further the Advisory Board may co-opt additional experts such as technological experts, legal experts and international advisors, etc as required to strengthen the Advisory pool,” the order stated.