CHENNAI: Fresh from the success of raising funds from the public for the Cochin Shipyard, Union Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari announced another massive scheme of securing funds from the public for the state owned National Highway Authority of India as part of the Government's initiative to raise Rs ten lakh crores for the development of roads in the Country.
The Minister made the announcement while inaugurating the three day meeting of the World Shipping Forum on November 23 where industry experts from all over the world meet once in four years to grapple with the problems facing the industry.
Organised by the Chennai branch of the Institute of Marine Engineers the theme for this year's seminar is Maritime India-Propelling growth amidst Disruptive Technologies. Convener of the forum K Shankar said the seminar will serve as a platform for discussion on the influence disruptive technologies have on a wide range of topics connected with the Shipping Industry.
The Minister said the NHAI will float a ten year bond shortly offering an attractive interest rate of 7.75 per cent interest per annum for Senior Citizens and 7.5 per cent for others.
Since the Shipping Industry is undergoing vast changes he said the Government has decided to keep pace with the latest developments in the industry. In this connection the Government proposes to repeal and amend obsolete laws so that the industry is not put to inconvenience.
He said the Major Port Authority Bill is still under the consideration of the Parliament and it will be the Government's endeavor to have it adopted at the earliest. The outdated Merchant Shipping Act of 1957 is being replaced. The jurisdiction of the law governing Maritime Claims has been replaced recently. This he said was a 126 year old law of British vintage.
On the infrastructure front the Government has already spent Rs one lakh eighty thousand crores in the last three years in the shipping sector. Fourteen industrial clusters have been planned on the coastal states. Rs sixty thousand crores Special Economic Zone is being created at Jawaharlal Nehru Port near Mumbai.
A Dedicated Railway Line to carry freight from Indore to Manmad is being constructed by the Port Railway Corporation at a cost of Rs 47,000 crores to facilitate movement of goods from central India to JNPT. The freight from central India could not be moved swiftly because of traffic problems in Gujarat. It took nearly seven days for the cargo to move from Indore to JNPT putting the shippers to great difficulty. The project will solve their problems.
The performance of Major Ports owned by the Government has improved vastly during the last three years. The year this Government took office in 2014 the profits of the ports stood at Rs three thousand crores. It has more than doubled to Rs. seven thousand crores last year.