The number of Indian ships detained on the international waters for poor adherence to safety and environmental standards has doubled. In 2011, 14 vessels were detained under various port-state-control (PSC) inspections. In 2010, it was seven.
With this dismal record, India has entered the grey list of the Tokyo memorandum of understanding (MoU) with no chance of making it to the white list anytime soon. The black, grey and white lists under various port state control MoUs make a distinction after assessing the safety of a ship with black denoting highest-risk zone. Among the major vessels detained last year were Shipping Corporation of India’s bulk carrier Tamil Nadu. It was detained at Qingdao, China, on March 31 because of inadequate fire safety measures.
Good Earth Maritime Ltd‘s Good Season was detained for not meeting fire safety and cleanliness standards in Rhizao province in China. A senior industry executive said checking of vessels under different MoUs has intensified lately. “This has been done to ensure only good ships ply the navigational routes,” he said.
|DEEP SEA BLUES
Indian flag vessels detained
|*One ship was reported both in Tokyo and Indian Ocean MoU in 2007
Source: Indian National Shipowners Association
Shipping companies say they do not have access to finances and green technology due to which their ships have not been able to adhere to the best safety and environmental standards. “The number of Indian flag vessels has also increased in the past year and the new tonnage is mostly second hand, which has not improved the overall quality of the Indian fleet,” said Anil Devli, chief executive officer, Indian National Shipowners Association. The average age of Indian ships currently is 19 years against the international standard of 15 years.
Among the other challenges, skilled manpower is one of the reasons for the poor performance of Indian vessels.
While the shipping industry trains an average of 4,500 seafarers every year, it has not been able to retain the best manpower, which chooses to work in foreign flags on account of higher tax-free packages.
It is mandatory for domestic shipping companies carrying Indian flag to recruit Indian crew. Industry body INSA has suggested the government exempt seafarers employed on ships from taxes.
Meanwhile, India has not been able to successfully implement the port-state control and flag-state inspection of vessels as mandated by various International Maritime Organisation’s (IMO) conventions. The shipping ministry data reveal that only four per cent of foreign ships and 40 per cent of the Indian ships calling at India ports are inspected.
Only 25 nautical officers spread over nine mercantile marine departments on the coast of India, also tasked to attend to life-saving equipment surveys, flag-state inspections (FSI) and port-state control inspections, are not sufficient to adhere to the IMO mandate for vessel inspections. The ministry estimates to enhance the PSC and FSI inspections, an additional 200 surveyors will be required at an expenditure of Rs 100 crore.