India's Ministry of Shipping Finishes Landmark Year
With enactment of the Recycling of Ships Act and the accession to IMO’s Hong Kong Convention, India says it has become a prime destination for environment friendly ship recycling. As a result, ship recycling volume is expected to double by 2024.
In 2019, India's Ministry of Shipping has also undertaken a number of initiatives to accelerate development of its shipping sector including measures to promote the employment of seafarers and improved connectivity with other countries.
India became the first country in the world to issue Biometric Seafarers Identity Documents capturing the facial biometric data of seafarers. India has seen unprecedented growth of its seafarers being employed onboard Indian and foreign flagged vessels. The number of Indian seafarers increased from 1,54,349 in 2017 to 2,08,799 in 2018 and to 2,31,776 in 2019.
The Ministry of Shipping set priorites to promote cruise tourism, and the operation of the first private premium luxury cruise liner Karnika has boosted domestic tourism. She sails between Mumbai and Goa, Mumbai and Ganpatipule (Jaigad) and Mumbai and Diu.
Four cruise ships docked simultaneously at Mumbai Port for the first time in November. Inaugural cruise services began between Dhaka and Kolkata this year, and four cruise vessels sailed between India and Bangladesh in 2019.
2019 saw a series of international cooperation agreements signed to boost bilateral trade. Partnering countries included Bangladesh, Nepal, Myanmar, Bhutan, the Maldives, Denmark and Sweden. The agreement between India and the Maldives paves the way for ferry and cargo services between the Maldives and Kerala. The agreement with Sweden started mutual recognition of seafarer certificates so that Indian seafarers will be able to sail onboard Swedish flag ships. India and Nepal have agreed to include inland waterways connectivity as an additional mode of transport, and an Indian waterway was used to transport cargo between Bangladesh and Bhutan for the first time.
MOUs were signed between Ranong Port (Thailand) and the Port Trusts of Chennai, Vishakhapatnam and Kolkata. These MoUs aim to enhance economic partnerships by reducing the transit time between India and Thailand from 10- 15 days to seven days.
India has improved its ranking under the Trading Across Border parameter of Ease of Doing business from 80 to 68. This was the result of various measures including Direct Port Delivery and Direct Port Entry initiatives, introduction of RFID, installation of container scanners and simplification of procedures by major ports.
An upgraded Port Community System was introduced for all ports. The system enables seamless data flow between the various stakeholders through a common interface. To move towards a completely paperless regime, an Electronic Delivery Order system was made mandatory along with e-invoicing and e-payment.
Two multipurpose berths were inaugurated at Deendayal Port, Kandla, in March, 2019. The new berths are helping to reduce congestion in the port.
Additionally in 2019, India was re-elected to the IMO Council under Category “B” - States with the largest interest in international seaborne trade - for the biennium 2020-21.