VISAKHAPATNAM: An MoU was signed with IIT-Kharagpur to set up a Rs 1,000 crore ship design and model testing centre to give a fillip to shipbuilding industry in the country, Union Minister of State for Shipping Mansukh L Mandaviya said here on Thursday. Addressing the inaugural of the two-day conclave of ports of Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC), the minister said the model testing centre would be of great help to member countries of BIMSTEC—Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and Nepal.
He said the conclave will provide an opportunity to exchange experiences and it is also aimed at improving maritime cooperation, trade and commerce among member countries. He said the member nations were registering 6 to 7 per cent growth rate in spite of the global slowdown.
Mandaviya said steps were being taken to improve inland waterways and ensure hassle-free movement of cargo from Varanasi to North East States via Bangladesh and Myanmar. He said inland waterways will be improved to connect Bhutan and Nepal. India is also engaged in developing ports and waterways in these countries, he said.
He urged the member countries to participate in some of the projects undertaken under Sagaramala to improve port modernisation, connectivity and inland waterways. Stating that of the over 200 minor ports, only 74 ports are functioning well, he said. A survey was being conducted to identify problems of these minor ports. He said they will be developed under Sagarmala project by providing equity to the State governments. The minor ports will play a major role in economic development of the country, he said.
He said a national single window system will be launched as part of the ease of doing business. It would act as single platform for trade at all 12 major ports in the country.The new major port bill, which will be introduced in Parliament, will enhance functional autonomy of ports, he said. It was being introduced to enable the major ports to compete with private ones. Sanjay Bhatia, chairperson of Indian Ports’ Association and Mumbai Port Trust, spoke about the possible areas of cooperation among BIMSTEC member countries. Visakhapatnam port chairperson K Ramamohana Rao welcomed the delegates.
Later, speaking to media, the minister said the Centre was committed to constructing a major port in AP as per the Reorganisation Act, 2014. Dugarajapatnam was considered in the beginning, but it was found not suitable. He said when the Centre sought an alternative proposal, the State government suggested Ramayapatnam in Prakasam district. The minister said a national single window system will be launched as part of the ease of doing business. He said it would act as single platform for EXIM trade at all 12 major ports in the country.