Port Blair, Jan. 19: In what can be termed as a major boost for Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the proposal of the Administration to allow seafarers holding Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) Certificate of Competency to travel to Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia received in-principle approval and the drafting of the multilateral agreement to be executed with these countries through the Ministry of External Affairs along with negotiations for the same is likely to start shortly.

The matter was hanging fire for many years and after the 1997 agreement of BIMMS, where similar agreement with regards to NCV seafarers was reached between India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Maldives and Sri Lanka, there had been no progress forward. In this regard, a virtual meeting on A&N Administration’s proposal for notification of Ports of Ranong & Phuket of Thailand, Ports of Lankavi, Lumut and Klang of Malaysia, Northern Ports of Indonesia under Near Coastal Voyage (NCV) was held today under the Chairmanship of the Union Home Secretary. The Chief Secretary, A&N Administration, Shri Jitendra Narain & Senior Officers attended the meeting.

Although the Administration has been trying to resolve the issue for many years, the proposal has finally been agreed to by the Ministry of Shipping, the DG Shipping, the Ministry of External Affairs and the Ministry of Home Affairs who have shown a positive and favourable response. In the next few months, through a multilateral agreement it is likely that this will come through. The matter was important as it will allow our seafarers to go to these countries, thus enabling easier movement of ships thereby encouraging growth of tourism, trade, movement of raw materials and construction materials and for opening up of Andamans, not only to particular Ports, but to the entire country and these countries.