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The first-of-its-kind ship design and model testing centre that would come up in IIT-Kharagpur, would give a great boost to the ship-building industry in the country, Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said on Thursday.
A memorandum of understanding has already been signed in this regard between the Union Ministry of Shipping and IIT-Kharagpur, the minister said at the inaugural session of the two-day BIMSTEC Ports Conclave here.
The proposed centre would be very useful for other BIMSTEC nations-- Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand and Sri Lanka, the Union Minister of state for Shipping said.
Mandaviya said there was great potential for improving maritime co-operation, trade and commerce among the seven BIMSTEC nations.
"Currently, port-based trade between our countries is around 3.71 billion USD. With multi-port connectivity and enhanced cooperation, we can increase this economy further, Mandaviya said.
The global economic slowdown notwithstanding, the BIMSTEC nations were registering 6-7 per cent growth rate and there was a great deal of synergy in their interests.
He said a single window system for all the 12 major ports in the country was being developed and it would boost exim trade.
A new Bill to be introduced in Parliament soon would only enhance functional autonomy of all major ports and not in anyway hinder them, the minister clarified.
The new legislation is only to enable major ports to compete with private ports without any hassles regarding tariffs and other matters, Mandaviya noted.
Steps were being taken to improve inland waterways in the country, the union minister said.
This would pave the way for easy, hassle-free movement of cargo not only from Benaras to Haldia to the northeast states but also Bangladesh, Myanmar, Bhutan and Nepal.
India is also engaged in developing ports and waterways in these countries. All this will immensely help these nations, he added.
Mandaviya urged the BIMSTEC member countries to participate in some of the projects under Sagarmala programme to improve port modernisation, connectivity and inland waterways.
The shipping minister announced that an international conference would be organised in India in February on improving cruise tourism.
Later, talking to reporters, Mandaviya said a feasibility report was being prepared to develop a major port at Ramayapatnam in Andhra Pradesh.
"There is a plan to develop another major port in AP as per the Reorganisation Act, 2014.
Since Dugarajapatnam was not viable,we asked the state government to suggest an alternative location and Ramayapatnam has been proposed, the minister said.
The Centre was also drawing up plans to develop 202 minor ports in the country, under the control of states, since only 74 were functional now.
"These ports play a very vital role in the economy," he added.
Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutam Reddy, Union Additional Secretary (Shipping) Sanjay Bandopadhyay, Indian Ports Association Chairman Sanjay Bhatia, Visakhapatnam Port Trust Chairman Rama Mohan Rao and representatives from participating countries attended the event.
(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)