Be it the development of inland waterways, Ro-Ro projects for moving cars on ships or improving road and rail connectivity to ports, the Maharashtra Maritime Board under the dynamic leadership of Atul Patne is changing gears to fast-track clearances ensuring faster execution of projects.
Q How far has the Maharashtra Maritime Board’s water transportation network come?
A dedicated cell has been created within the proposed Maharashtra Port Connectivity Corporation for the development of inland waterways and undertaking relevant projects. Financing of inland waterways projects will be done through a mix of budgetary support, multilateral funding, debt and internal accrual of the MMB or the Maharashtra Port Connectivity corporation or any other means as deemed fit by Board. Under the Mumbai metropolitan region water transportation network, there will be multiple phases of development of the water transportation network. The National Waterways Authority has declared 14 water ways in Maharashtra of which seven are creeks. We have appointed WAPCOS as a consultant to give us their inputs on how these can be converted to usable facilities. The seven creeks will be operational by March 2018. We also have submitted nine RoRo project proposals. This will help people using cars to get in to the ships with the car without getting off their car. This network will be there along the entire coast of Maharashtra. We have identified jetties with back up land. We reckon this will reduce road traffic and take as many as 1,500 trucks off the roads in suburbs in Mumbai. In addition, there will also be good catamaran and high speed boats. To kick-start the process, we have received tenders from many firms for dredging, navigation and civil works. They’ll also help in setting up small terminals and create avigation systems for boats to create a traffic directional pathway similar to Google maps. MMB will provide necessary infrastructure for navigation and aid in creating a coastal communication network. We plan to increase the tourism potential in the Konkan region through water transport.
Q What is the MMB doing to hasten connectivity between its ports?
As on date, there is a proposal to construct a railway network to connect Jaigadh, Dighi and Andre ports. Land acquisition for this project is already underway. A special purpose vehicle named Maharashtra Port Connectivity Corporation has been formed to oversee the execution of the road and rail projects. The Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation, Maharashtra Rail Corporation, Sagarmala Port Connectivity have stakes in this SPV along with MMB. In this joint venture, connectivity to the nearest highway is the responsibility of the state government through the maritime board. We want to connect western Maharashtra districts such as Kolhapur, Solapur to all these ports so that cargo can be exported. We are also looking to connect these areas to the Delhi Mumbai Freight Corridor and to Konkan Railway so all ports are interconnected through rail and roadways. The government will encourage the development of logistics service clusters in the portâ€™s vicinity to attract more cargo to the port.
Q To what use will the shipyards along Maharashtra’s coast be put to?
Currently, there is no serious shipbuilding activity going on at the yards although there are dry docks. There is capacity to build ships. Once the cruise and passengers vessels are operational, these yards will take care of the repair and maintenance of these boats which is equally important as building vessels. There will also be boat salons at these shipyards where high speed boats and catamarans will be customised for purposes of use. We want to create a houseboat structure for use by corporate firms where meetings can be held substituting boats to the hotel conference rooms.
Q What efforts are being invested in offering maritime training for maritime professionals?
At the moment we support both maritime research and training. We have invested in creating a maritime research institute and training zone at Belapur. At the institute, anyone that wants to pursue conduct research on maritime subjects will be encouraged and their ideas will be promoted after whetting. There will also be training for people working at the water front. It will be in collaboration with the University of Pune. We are also developing the Marina at Belapur. Even in shipbuilding and related areas we plan to set up an Industrial Training Institute for imparting specialised courses in relevance to shipbuilding and repairing.
Q What are you top priorities as chief executive of the maritime board?
As a maritime board we need to develop ports and improve connectivity. Despite having specific policies for ports and jetties, Maharashtra has made relatively less progress in terms of maritime projects. There are many projects where development work has not yet begun or has been stalled, mainly because the private sector is unable to resolve issues arising during the project lifecycle without government support. We aim to fast-track clearances enabling faster execution of projects by expanding and strengthening the MMBâ€™s role. Secondly, we want to create an environment conducive for maritime activities from exploring and developing the potential of renewable energy at ports to assisting in setting up desalination plants to treat water. We are also trying to create synergies between tourism and maritime activities.
Q How has the role of the maritime board expanded from assisting port development?
The maritime board policy now reflects holistic development of the maritime sector with adequate provisions for all its sub-sectors. Besides, the maritime board is engaging with the state government and other agencies to fasttrack clearances, enabling faster execution of projects. The new policy encourages planning of industrial estates in coastal areas, which can leverage on available port connectivity. It also envisages promoting development of industrial clusters and free trade warehousing zones and coastal economic zones in the vicinity of ports. Moreover, the waterfront policy is with Maharashtra Maritime Board. We also act as the beach conservator of the state and are in charge of implementing the Maritime Security Act. All coastal vessels, cruise boats and other catamarans have to be registered with us before commencing operations. The MMB also looks in to coastal security and we make sure marine police operate at important strategic locations. Today, all of our existing ports are ISPC compliant.