Towards Safe Sailing through Rough Weathers

Frontier in successfully executing industrial events & exhibitions, CHEMTECH Foundation has further bonded maritime professionals and leaders together on one platform by organising 4th edition of SMP World Expo 2014 that was supported by Union Ministry of Shipping at Bombay Exhibition Centre, Mumbai from 10th February to 12th February. The Conference themed on Maritime Industry – Bridge to Economic Sustainability was inaugurated by maritime connoisseurs Mr Gautam Chatterjee, IAS, and Director General of Shipping, Mr M P Pinto, IAS (Retd), Former DG of Shipping and Secretary to Ministry of Shipping, Mr Noboru Ueda, Chairman and President, ClassNK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Japan), H E Eivind S Homme, Ambassador Norway to India. The cadets of Indian Maritime University stole the limelight by giving the guard of honour to the dignitaries at the time of the inaugural session. Japan Ship and Machinery Equipment Association (JSMEA) also extended its support to this edition of the event. Mr N N Kumar (IRS) Chairman Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) graced the inaugural session of Conference on Ports.

Shipping is an important driving factor for economic growth of any country. As compared to world maritime industry, Indian shipping sector has been showing downward trajectory since 1990s in terms of shrinking shipping tonnage, descending India’s maritime status among 25 nations and dwindling total tonnage carriage. It is currently going through one of its toughest phases due to oversupply of vessels and higher freight rates.

During his inaugural speech, while emphasising on the significance of shipping sector in growth of the country, Capt J C Anand, Chairman Emeritus, Indian Register of Shipping raised grave concerns about diminishing tonnage of the sector. Taking note of the declining trend in growth of Indian shipping industry, he brought to notice that Indian shipping which was 1.18 per cent of world shipping has slid to 0.3 per cent. He stressed upon that it is the need of the hour that government should take captains of the shipping sector into confidence before clamping anything on this level-playing field. He recommended providing a level-playing field in the shipping sector so that it can give competitive edge to the global shipping industry.

He suggested that if the united shipping industry has good leadership, long-term vision and strong agenda, which the government cannot ignore, for the growth of the sector in the country, the government has to support the stakeholders for the revival of the Indian maritime sector. He firmly believed that the policymakers along with leaders of the shipping sector can steer the industry out of this difficult phase. If the sector misses the opportunity of the next shipping cycle of which the whole world is taking advantage, it will be too late to do something. He requested Mr Gautam Chatterjee to place the young eligible cadets on foreign ships to save their frustrations.

While applauding CHEMTECH Foundation for organising the event, Mr Noboru Ueda explored this opportunity to seek cooperation between maritime captains of Japan and India. He summarised Japan Govt’s initiatives and Japan’s various projects and technical innovations for the growth of Japanese maritime industry along with collaboration with other countries. He also stressed on the need for growth in Indian shipping industry by joint ventures and by following the footsteps of Japan & encouraging the growth in this industry.

Mr Pinto talked about the problems, which have plagued the growth of the sector need the urgent attention for its further movement. He felt that the sector needs to overcome the constraints. Instead of taking benefits of subsidy, he leveraged that the industry should be vocal about weaknesses with policymakers for getting rid of the hurdles for its progress.

H E Homme shared Norwegian Government’s efforts for gaining Norway superiority in the world maritime sector. He also informed about a number of Indian seafarers working in Norway. He acknowledged that Norway has been a partner in Indian shipping industry. He pointed out that these conferences should create more avenues for international cooperation.

Mr Gautam Chatterjee took note of the problems faced by the Indian maritime industry. He opined that such conferences give us further opportunity to work closely for better cooperation in bilateral sector. He said that the govt is thinking of putting in place some international grading system so that such information in public domain about the performance of maritime institutes will help for recognition of the best institutes for recruitment of cadets. He further mentioned that sustainability will come from these competitive mariners who are serving the foreign flagged ships.

While concluding the inaugural session, Mr Ramamurthy Chairman of Technical Committee, SMP World Expo 2014 & President (Shipping), Reliance Industries Limited, felt the need of a strategic plan for augmenting the fleet for carriage of freight in order to counter the impact from the lack of adequate inter modal transport capability and emerging challenges to energy use and economic sustainability. He further hoped that National policies are introduced to ensure that shipping and port sectors are ready to operate in rapidly challenging environment of domestic as well as international freight domain.

The two-day shipping conference had in depth brainstorming deliberations and presentations on Environment Emissions and Pollution Control, Alternative & Renewable Energies, Indian Navy and Coast Guard, Shipbuilding & Ship repairs, Inland Vessels, River Sea and Coastal Vessels, Shipping Finance and Taxation, Salvage & Legal issues. The crème de la crème of maritime sector like Dinesh Lal, Peter M Swift, R C Bhavnani, Captain Sunil Thaper, Mark Darley, J K Dhar, Rear Admiral Purandare, VSM, Cmde M Jitendran, S K Shahi, M V Ramamurthy and many more nourished the SMP World Expo Conference by giving insights and food for thought to the delegates and dignitaries.

Ports Capturing Sea of Opportunities for India, the theme for Ports Conference had discussions and presentations on Effectiveness of PPP, and Futuristic Ports.

During his inaugural speech, N N Kumar appreciated CHEMTECH Foundation’s initiatives in creating business alliances and bridging the gap for the excellent performance of the sector. While talking about serious hindrances blocking the growth trajectory of the port sector, he commented that slowdown of global shipping industry and flattening of Indian growth story is the biggest challenge for return over the investments in Indian sector. He stressed upon the fact that lack of responsive mechanism for environment clearance or land acquisition also requires the immediate attention of the government if they want to develop the port sector.

Moving forward, he emphasised that all stakeholders including the policymakers are required to play more dynamic role to make this sector further attractive for domestic and international investors.

CHEMTECH Foundation honoured the dignitaries with SMP 2014 Leadership & Excellence Awards for their achievements and outstanding contributions to the growth of the sector.