Kuldeep Briefs Shipping Minister Mansukh Mandaviya

Port Blair, March 30: Shri Kuldeep Rai Sharma, Member of Parliament had a meeting with the Hon'ble Minister of State for Shipping (Independent Charge) Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya at Raj Niwas on 29.03.2021 who was on three days official tour to Andaman & Nicobar Islands.  Referring to shipping as lifeline for these Islands, the MP emphasized that the geographical and locational advantage of the archipelago of the A&N Islands can certainly play major role in making these Islands socio economically self-sustainable if need based projects capable of generating employment are taken up by Central Government.

The Member of Parliament while interacting with the Minister intended to know about the status of implementation of certain projects which are under consideration of Government for past few years and also suggested few more projects in the Shipping sector for futuristic development of the Islands. The major projects and proposals which was discussed by the MP included:

Dry Dock at Shore Point:  The construction of Dry Dock at Shore Point for docking bigger size ships having draught of more than 5 mtrs. Sharma said that construction of a bigger size dry dock at Shore Point in Bambooflat besides creating facilities for underwater repairs of ships of bigger size in the Islands will also generate employment opportunities for the people living in the Ferrargunj Tehsil, which after closure of Andaman Timber Industries has been seized.  He informed that the land for construction of Dry Dock has been acquired by the PMB, A&N Administration and techno-feasibility study carried out by the Andaman Lakshadweep Harbour Works with the assistance of IIT, Madras.

Bridge between of Chatham and Bambooflat:  Laying emphasis on the need to have easy and fast commutation between Port Blair and Bambooflat region, the MP requested for early construction of Bridge over sea connecting Chatham Island and Bambooflat. He said that the Bambooflat and the adjoining region will also develop at rapid pace with Port Blair and Ferrargunj becoming 'Twin City'.

Transhipment Port at Great Nicobar Island:  Development of Transhipment Port with bunkering facilities at Campbell Bay in Great Nicobar Island located at mouth of Strait of Malacca adjacent to the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean. Sharma mentioned that the project is proposed to bring economic development in the Islands under the 'Act East' policy of the Government.

Extension of IV Limits in A&N Islands waters:  The MP said that Extension of IV Limits for which Port Management with the assistance of National Institute of Ocean Technology (NIOT) has conducted survey and investigation regarding extension of IV Limits in A&N Islands. He said that extension of IV Limits will make it possible for vessels registered under the IV Act to ply between several Islands thereby increasing the connectivity and will boost tourism activities.

Development of Fishing Infrastructures: The Member of Parliament referring to the Ministry of Shipping, Government of India initiative for preparing a Sagartat Samriddhi Plan for the overall development of coastal community and coastline in the country requested the Minister for development of infrastructure to facilitate Deep Sea Fishing  and Coastal fishing activities through-out the Andaman and Nicobar Islands by providing financial aids for procurement of fishing trawlers, creating fishing craft landing jetties, Cold Storages, fish processing units , fisheries training institute etc.

Maritime Training Institute:  Sharma proposed for establishment of exclusive marine training institute and examination centre for proficiency certification of Deck and engine room staff. He further informed the Minister that Andaman & Nicobar Administration used to get 10 (ten) seats of Graduate Marine Engineers (GME) per year in GRSE, which has now been discontinued. He requested the Minister for allocation of the seats for GME from Cochin Shipyard Limited (CSL) as the Andaman & Nicobar Administration has entered in an MOU with the CSL for the management of Government Dock Yard and as part of human resource development the CSL needs to consider the proposal for the benefit of the Islanders.

Government Decision on Transfer of MV ATAL and MV ASHOKA to Indian Navy:  The Member of Parliament informed the Minister regarding the Government proposal  for  transferring 2 (two) 1200 passenger cum 1000 tonnes capacity ships to Indian Navy, which are at the final stage of construction at Cochin Shipyard Limited. Referring to the government proposal the MP said that, these two ship are constructed as replacement to the existing ships namely MV Nicobar and MV Nancowry which has outlived their service life. With the lone remaining ship namely MV Swaraj Dweep plying in the Island-Mainland sector also nearing completion of her service life, no ship will be left for Islanders to travel between Port of Port Blair and Ports at Kolkata Chennai and Visakhapatnam. He said government’s initiative to maintain Shipping services between Port Blair and mainland are meant to serve poor people who cannot afford to travel by flight by paying high fare.

A bunk fare in ship cost Rs.1130/- as compared to minimum fare of Rs.4500/- per passenger being charged by the A&N Administration in the chartered flights to travel to Kolkata Chennai and Visakhapatnam said Sharma. He said that with scrapping of MV Nicobar & MV Nancowry and in the event of handing over the new ships under construction namely MV ATAL and MV ASHOKA the 409 seafarers of the Islands will be losing the employment opportunities.

Setting up of Ship building and ship breaking facilities:  These facilities in the Islands at suitable locations will not only bring technological developments in the Islands but will also provide job opportunities in various categories of engineering and skilled workers of the Islands passing out from DBRAIT, Polytechnic, ITI, Community Polytechnic, Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY) etc. beside employing unskilled workers.

Coastal Protection at Car Nicobar: Coastal protection at Car Nicobar is required to prevent land erosions specifically being caused subsequent to construction of Mus Break Water.

Apart from the above, the MP also briefed about the need for improvement and augmentation of Container Yard at Port Blair.

Shri Mansukh L. Mandaviya, the Hon'ble Minister of Shipping (Independent Charge) assured to look into various issues deliberate by Shri. Kuldeep Rai Sharma and requested him for detail discussions for better understanding of the issues at his office in New Delhi.