SMP conference shows the way out of the gloom
Chemtech’s Shipping, Marine & Ports conference 2014, the first big event of the year, gave an insight into the industry’s expectations, challenges and opportunities in order that stakeholders strive to be globally competitive through innovations and by bridging the gap between technology providers and users. Despite the recessionary conditions, the organizers made a bold effort to hold the event and made the best of it all. The three-day program of 10 to 12 February 2014 focused on the important issues of the maritime sector placing emphasis on prolonged discussion on each topic.
The event saw were some of the glitterati of the maritime world making pragmatic proposals that could possibly help to bring about a turnaround in the prevailing depressive conditions. Capt J. C. Anand, Chairman Emeritus of the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) examined the Indian scenario of the maritime industry which was seeing a decline over the years. He said that no particular source could be blamed for this. “The ship owning, ship building, ship breaking and ship repairing industry needs the confidence of the government so that they can help take this industry forward,” he said. He stressed the need for some urgent remedial action otherwise if the revival is not achieved it may be too late to do anything later on.
Noboru Ueda, Chairman and President of ClassNK (Nippon Kaiji Kyokai, Japan) made encouraging observations giving an insight into various Japanese projects and technical innovations which have kept the industry growing. He cited some instances of collaboration with various countries that have infused necessary resources with ClassNK being a common factor in this joint venture. He stressed the need for growth in Indian ship building through joint ventures with Indian ship builders entering into tie-ups with Japanese firms. He gave some practical inputs as to how the Indian Register of Shipping could grow on the same lines ClassNK has been doing.
“Norway has been a partner with Indian ship builders,” pointed out Eivind S. Homme, the Norwegian Ambassador. He described how the Norwegian ship building industry has continued to develop. “Over 6,000 Indian seafarers are serving on Norwegian vessels,” he stated. “Besides, there were good opportunities for building a lasting trade relationship with Norway.”
Michael Pinto, former Director General of Shipping and Secretary Shipping, government of India, spoke about the various problems that needed to be tackled in order that the industry progresses. One significant point he made was that it is not important how fast the turnaround is but ‘whether we are able to do it at all is the most important aspect’. It is more important to first consider the constraints the industry faces and see how they can be overcome. Coastal shipping was another aspect he touched upon and advised that we must not think about obtaining subsidy form the government all the time but how well we can get together and give a boost to coastal shipping. Stress and weaknesses are everywhere and one has to get down to the brass tack and take up the issues with the policy makers in order to get things going.
The Director General of Shipping, Gautam Chatterjee, responded to the various points raised by some to the speakers. “Conferences like this should serve as a platform to a certain extent resolve difficulties and problems. We could also take into account the ideas given by the Norwegian Ambassador, Mr. Eivind S. Homme.”
M. V. Ramamurthy, President (Shipping) Reliance Industries Ltd., underlined the need for a national maritime road map in order to protect the national interests locally as well as globally. He considered the maritime strength of the nation being the inland waterways, coastal shipping as well as shipping at the international level, all of which could be leveraged for sustaining the economy. “Our nation needs a strategic plan for augmenting the national shipping fleet for carrying our own freight instead of counting on foreign shipping. National policies are needed to ensure that our shipping and port sector are ready to operate in a rapidly challenging environment in the domestic as well as international freight program.
Kyoung Yup Shin of Samsung Heavy Industries Ltd and Dr Peter M. Swift, Chairman of Maritime Piracy Humanitarian Response Program focused on the ‘Maritime Industry for sustainable National and Global Economic Development’. I. N. Bose, Asst V. P. of Great Eastern Shipping Co. Ltd., along with P.K. Mishra, Sr. Principal Surveyor of IRS and R. C. Bhavnani of Viswa Labs depicted the current strategies with regard ‘Environment Emissions and Pollution Control’. There was focus also on ‘Alternative & Renewable Energies’ with presentations being made by Mark Darley of IRS and J. K. Dhar of the Indian Maritime University. Cmde M. Jitendran of IRS, Debashish Bir of Pipavav Defence & Offshore Engineering Co. Ltd. along with Commander Vinay Verma, Sr. V. P. also of Pipavav spoke about the ‘Shipbuilding & Ship Repairs’. Deliberations on Inland vessels, Shipping Finance & Taxation, Salvaging, Effectiveness of Public Private Partnership in ports, the oil industry operations evoked a lot of interests.