Visakhapatnam: Union Minister of State for Shipping, Mansukh Mandaviya inaugurated the two-day “BIMSTEC Ports” Conclave conducted by the Visakhapatnam Port Trust here on Thursday.
The Bay of Bengal Initiative for Multi-Sector Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) is a regional organisation comprising of seven member states lying in the littoral areas of Bay Bengal (Bangladesh, India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Bhutan and Nepal).
On occasion, he said that there are around 204 minor ports in the country, but only 73 are operational. The Centre has been preparing an action plan along with state governments for the comprehensive development of all minor ports.
“India has a rich maritime culture with long coastlines. It is this geographical position that enables East India and West India to abut the Bay of Bengal and the Arabian Sea, respectively, forming two distinct coastal and maritime traditions,” said Mandaviya, during his inaugural address at the BIMSTEC Port Conclave.
Mandaviya reiterated the importance of BIMSTEC nations in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s slogan Sabka Sath, Sabka Vikas. He said that it would harness trade and accelerated growth by cooperating with BIMSTEC countries on different areas of common interest by utilising regional resources and geographical advantage. He added that BIMSTEC countries bring 1.67 billion people together to create combine GDP growth of 3.71 trillion US dollars.
Welcoming the delegates from BIMSTEC nations, K Ram Mohan Rao, Chairman of Visakhapatnam Port Trust, said, “The presence of luminaries from these countries will have a greater effect on exploring the possibility of increasing economic cooperation by furthering EXIM trade and coastal shipping. It also leads to investment opportunities and sharing of best practices adopted for productivity and safety at ports.”
A robust and well-conceived port and coastal infrastructure would act as a catalyst to promote economic activity in the coastal areas. It would contribute to the growth of the blue economy and expand the livelihood choices for the coastal communities, said Vishvas Vidu Sapkal, Joint Secretary, with the Ministry of Shipping in his opening address.
While speaking about the four pillars of the Sagarmala, he said the maritime sector would fuel India’s growth story by revitalising ports and the shipping sector by increasing capacity and efficiency, thus lowering logistics costs.
Moderating the panel session on port-led development, Sanjay Bhatia, Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust, said, “As the supply chain necessitates expansion beyond national boundaries, the enlarging scope result in increased cargo throughput, which is putting tremendous pressure on the existing port infrastructure. Therefore, we need collaboration on IT-enabled solution in import/export, a strong mechanism to encourage cruise tourism, and technological transfer for the development of industrial cluster near ports.” He added that the diverse historical and cultural heritage of BIMSTEC nations makes it an ideal destination for tourism, in which ports plays a vital role in encouraging cruise tourism.
Mekapati Goutham Reddy, Industries Minister for AP, shared the proactive initiatives of his government towards port development and port-led development. He urged the investments in the port sector for the mutual benefit of each other countries. Visakhapatnam MP MVV Sathyanarayana and Tourism Minister Muttamsetti Srinivas also participated and spoke about the tourism potential in Andhra Pradesh.
A Memorandum of Understanding by the three major ports on India’s east coast was signed with Port of Thailand Authority during the first BIMSTEC Ports Conclave held in Vizag this year.
The MoU was signed by Visakhapatnam Port Trust, Chennai Port Trust and Kolkata Port Trust to promote maritime trade with Ranong Port in Thailand.