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Govt to push domestic companies to make cranes for cargo handling; to replace imports worth Rs 1,000 crore

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The shipping ministry will push domestic companies to manufacture cranes used for cargo handling at ports to replace annual imports worth Rs 1,000 crore of such equipment as well as work towards increasing the country's share in global shipping recycling business to 60 percent, according to Union Minister Mansukh L Mandaviya.

The efforts are aimed at boosting ports-led industries and make India as a key destination for recycling warships and other ships under 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat', the Shipping Minister said.

Under the 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat Abhiyan' or 'Self-reliant India Mission', global tenders up to Rs 200 crore were recently disallowed.

"We will aggressively work towards 'Aatma Nirbhar Bharat' by promoting port-led industries and industrialisation. We will boost ship repair and recycling facilities.

"And among many such initiatives, we have decided to procure 'Made in India' cranes for cargo handling at ports. So far, India used to buy cranes worth abut Rs 1,000 crore annually," Mandaviya told PTI in an interview.

He also said that so far there is no crane manufacturer here but Indian companies can very well build these under 'Make in India' either independently or through the joint venture route.

India has a 7,500-kilometre coastline and the cargo handled by the country's top 12 major ports had risen marginally to nearly 705 million tonnes (MT) over the 699.10MT cargo handled in 2018-19.

Besides, procuring cranes locally, importance will be given to attaining self-reliance in port infrastructure development, jetty, terminal construction and cruise terminal, he added.

This will also boost employment by creating demand for the skilled manpower, he said, adding that plans are afoot to double the ship repair business in the next two years.

"About 30,000 vessels come to Indian ports with cargo per annum. Their maintenance is compulsory in 3-5 years. We are working towards boosting ship repair facility set up. We are aggressively working towards this. At present India repairs only about 1,200 ships per annum," he said.

The country will strive for about 60 percent of the global ship recycling business share. Within two years, the share would reach 50 percent, he added.

India's share in global ship recycling business at present is 40 percent.

"European Union and Japan have started sending their ships for recycling to India. At present a total of 300 to 400 ships come to India for recycling. The trend has been encouraging but COVID-19 has impacted it but still we expect about 350 ships for recycling including from EU and Japan," the Minister said.

According to him, Gujarat's Alang, the world's biggest shipyard, is ready to cater to projected increase in the number of ships for recycling.

Currently, India recycles around about 400 of the 1,000 ships which are demolished per annum globally. However, countries like Japan, Europe and the US were not sending their ships for recycling to the country in the absence of ratification of a global convention. The scenario changed with the Recycling of Ships Act, 2019, the Minister said.

The Act ratifies the Hong Kong convention and facilitating environment friendly recycling process of ships and adequate safety of the yard workers.

"The US and other countries do not send their ships to India for recycling but now that we have ratified the Hong Kong conventions, we expect the numbers to swell," the Minister said.

India, Bangladesh, China and Pakistan account for recycling about 90 percent of the global ships.

India's share at present stands around 40 percent or about 70 lakh gross tonnage of ships per annum which is bound to go to at least 60 percent given 95 of the 131 plots at Alang (are) developing these as per Hong Kong conventions, paving way for ships from Europe, Japan, US and other countries to be recycled here, he said.

The Act is expected to raise the brand value of ship recycling yards located at Alang in Gujarat, Mumbai Port, Kolkata Port and Azhikkal in Kerela and will also enhance availability of steel.

Another area of focus will be increasing the number of seafarers as India with 12 percent of the world's population has just about 7 percent of the seafarers market.

On the other hand, countries like Philippines with just 2 percent of the world's population has grabbed 20 percent global share.

"The number of seafarers in 2014 was 94,000 which has reached 2.4 lakh now. We want to take it to 5 lakh in five years," he said.

India has 12 major ports -- Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Mormugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambaranar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) under the control of the Centre. These major ports handle about 60 percent of the country's total cargo traffic.