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The Interactive Session

The Interactive Session was conducted by Secretary, Ministry of Shipping and ShriB.N. Jha, Chairman, IWAI. 
The panel included :-
Shri K.R. Bhati, AS & FA, MOS
Shri M. Ramachandran, JS (S & IWT), MOS
Shri Jacob Thomas, Chairman, Cochin Port Trust
Shri K. Jayakumar, Secretary, Irrigation, Government of Kerala.
Shri Lida Jacob, Secretary, PWD, Government of Kerala.
Shri R.M. Nair, Member (Technical), IWAI
Shri Jose Domenic, MD, Casino Group of Hotels
While initiating the discussion Secretary, MOS invited views/ suggestions from representatives of State Govt., private sector, PSUs and the related organisations on the IWT.

Sri. Vittal from JAN DE NUL, a Belgium dredging company said that his firm had entered into a long term contract of 18 years for maintenance of navigable waterway with required depth and width in River Raiparu (520 km) in Argentina and wanted clarifications on:
i) Whether the promoters would provide infrastructural facilities;
ii) Whether there was any proposal to involve private sector in maintaining the waterway. He showed interest in associating in maintaining NW-3.

Chairman, IWAI clarified that the infrastructural facilities like 2m LAD,32m/38m width of channel, vertical clearance of 10m under bridges are being provided on NW-3 at an estimated cost of Rs 60 crores and requested private participation in construction of terminals either on BOT basis or on equity participation with bipartite or tripartite agreements. He clarified that private participation included direct foreign investment and informed that the proposals from private firms would be considered positively.

Shri C.S. George, Ministry of Food Processing, Govt. of Kerala, suggested inclusion of leaders of fishermen community in the concerned committees when they arc formed as they were being affected. He suggested that the speed factor should be taken into account in developing th'e water way and sea weeds should be removed from the waterway and be used as by-product in other fields.

Chairman, IWAI clarified that development is confined to only 32 -38 m width of the waterway and hence the fishermen need not be seriously affected. This 32-38m channel, however, must remain free from any encroachment or obstruction, otherwise entire waterway will be affected, both in terms of safety and efficiency. This is a National Waterway and the parameters of a National Waterway must be maintained. Chairman, CPT suggested that a committee under chairmanship of District Magistrate may be formed to solve such problems.

Shri Jayaraj from Ocean Sparkles Ltd suggested that inland vessels should be covered under Coastal Shipping Act and a private/quasi Govt. body should be appointed as the regulatory authority. He also stated that due to lack of return cargo, the economics of IWT becomes unfavourable. He suggested that import duty exemption be made applicable for hiring second hand dredgers and inland vessels from abroad and there should be separate banking agency for availing loan subsidies.

Secretary, MOS clarified that regularity authority cannot be a private party. However, in the state where Inland Vessels Act was not adopted, DO. Shipping could be the competent authority to issue necessary certificate. He stated that formation of a separate banking agency will have to be seen in light of a variety of factors. Further, the 30% vessel building subsidy can be considered only for newly constructed vessels for National Waterways as it is basically to encourage the ship building industry in the country.

Shri Abraham Kuruvilla from ABC suggested that the banks along Champakkara and Udyogmandal Canals should be provided with the bank protection and developmental activities should be limited to Champakkara and Udyogmandal Canals only as most of the cargo is moved in these Canals. There should be floating jetties in these canals. Those canals needed dredging and the National Waterway lacked proper security which should be brought under some administrative agency.

Prof. K. V. Thomas, Minister for Tourism and Fisheries stated that Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals were economically viable and expressed that the economically viable stretches should be taken up first. He assured that the Oovt of Kerala and Oovt of India would work together in developing the Udyogamandal and Champakkara canals.

Prof. Raman Nair of Cochin University wanted to know if any activities for developing tourism in Ashtamudi lake and Vembanadu Kayal were being taken up. Citing the example of high banks provided to the river Thames in London to facilitate movement of vessels with high speed, he wanted to know if Vembanad lake and Ashtamudi kayal could be developed in similar way.

Prof. K. V. Thomas clarified that the intension of development of IWT also included tourism. The thrust would be on IWT development and the state govt would provide infrastructure for tourism industry.

Shri Narayanan, MD, Flow Tiles India, involved in construction of floating structures using US technology (using laminated ferosinite) expressed that the technology being used by them was economical for construction of floating structures including barges and sought a clarification whether the 30% subsidy applicable to shipyards can also be made applicable to small builders so that they can supply the barges at half the cost of the supply by the ship yards.

Secretary, MOS clarified that the subsidy shall be available for inland vessels meant for transportation of cargo on National Waterways. However, the case of passenger vessels is also being looked into. The case of house boats, can be examined by the Govt.

Shri. Mohan Kumar, Director State Water Transport Department suggested that IWAI should provide funds for construction of passenger Terminals.

The Chairman, IWAI clarified that the provision for construction of passenger terminals can be made by State Govts. under Centrally Sponsored schemes.

Sri Suresh from a shipping company at Kochi wanted to know whether the 30% subsidy was for only Public Sector Shipyards or the private shipyards were also eligible for it. If the private shipyards are also eligible, he requested to replace the words "Indian Shipyards" with "Shipyards in India" in the IWT Policy documents as the could "Indian Shipyards" leave some doubt.

Secretary, Shipping clarified that as far he remembered the private sector shipyards in the country were also eligible for the subsidy and agreed to look into the matter.

Sri. Kundu from Indian Registrar of Shipping, Cochin expressed that vertical clearances under the bridges limited the capacity of vessels to 300 t. He further wanted to know if any remedial measures were being taken in this regard in NW3 .

The Member (Technical), IWAI, said that some bridges in Champakkara canal did not have sufficient clearance and informed that a vertical clearance of 10m was being insisted upon for all the new bridges.

The Secretary, PWD, Govt of Kerala stated that nine bridges having insufficient clearance were being modified. She also stated that seven of these nine bridges could be provided with increased vertical clearance while two required replacement for which designs were under finalisation after looking into the financial aspects.

In this context, the Chairman, IWAI further clarified that old bridges constructed by bricks could be dismantled and reconstructed. He also informed that modification/ up gradation works at 2 locks had been taken up. He further stated that various agencies of Kerala had wide experience in maritime activities and requested them to utilise their expertise in other waterways also such as in NW -I and N W -2.

Sri James from LOTES Ltd., a private Shipping Company informed that they would be launching a 550 t vessel shortly and intended to know if there is any scheme for PSU Oil companies, NTPC, FACT etc for using the waterway and sought help for cargo support. He expressed that 1800 tonnes of Naphtha was being transported by BPCL from Irumbanam in Champakkara canal to Kayamkulam (NTPC) daily by road and when contacted for diversion of the same to IWT, he was informed that the waterway was not ready. He also stated out that the IV Act had not been adopted by Govt. of Kerala and wanted to know whether subsidy would be available if the vessel were registered under the Ferries Act.

Secretary, Shipping, MOS stated that all the states had already been requested to adopt IV Act, 1917. Subsidy would not be withheld just because the vessel was not registered under IV Act. However, it should be an Inland vessel and be utilised for transportation of cargo in Inland waterways. He requested Sri Malhotra, MMD, Kochi to throw light on this aspect.

The MMD Sri Malhotra, clarified that the subsidy could be availed, if the vessels were registered under hover craft rules.

One of the Participants from Oil Furnace Company expressed that non-availability of navigable channel in NW-3 led to suspension of movement of Oil by HPC since February 2000 and sought formation of a task force involving all concerned.

Secretary, MOS stated that two committees would be formed. One would be under the Chairmanship of Minister/ Secretary of the state govt representing the Departments of Transport, Irrigation and Tourism etc. Director, IWAI, Kochi would be the member secretary. The second committee would be formed to be chaired by Chairman, CPT with representatives from IWAI,& waterway user as members.

Chairman, IWAI stated that a separate task force would be required for oil sector as this will improve the position substantially immediately. He also thanked FACT for transporting the cargo through IWT mode. He informed that NCAER reports can be made available to the agencies free of cost so as to enable them to have clear idea on economic viability of IWT projects.

Secretary, Irrigation, Govt. of Kerala, stated that with in Kerala itself an improved coordination was required amongst departments like Irrigation, Transport and Tourism etc. Chairman, CPT stated that Cochin Port Trust would help in providing loading and unloading facilities to the operators.

Chief Engineer (Mech.), Irrigation Dept., Govt of Kerala suggested that 50'>/0 funding by the central Govt under centrally Sponsored Scheme should be as assistance rather than loan.

Secretary (Shipping) stated that it would be taken up during the inter ministry meeting to be held in Delhi. It could also be discussed in the meeting of ll1C 1 WT Development Council being held on 25th August, 2001.

Regional Manager, Central Ware Housing Corporation mentioned that the CWC have a net work of 450 ware houses and have a tie up with railways for providing transit storage facilities at the rail heads. He informed that they already have ware houses at Kakanadu, Willingdon Island and Thrissur and requested to make use of them for IWT and also proposed to provide such storage facilities wherever

Secretary, MOS stated that the proposal of Central Ware Housing Corporation will be kept in mind.

One of the participants suggested that transportation of Cargo along with the passengers so that many enterprises like restaurants, shops, taxi services etc. could develop along the waterway and requested to give more emphasis to the transportation of people.

Secretary, MOS stated that the above proposal can be considered.

The Chairman, IWAI stated the Authority's view that as one of the measures to promote transportation of people along with the cargo, the 30% vessel subsidy scheme should be extended to tourist vessels also. He further stated that Comby operations clubbing cargo and passenger movement may also be considered.

The Chairman, Cochin Port Trust stated that extension of NW-Ill to further east through its branches would be advantageous both for cargo and tourist transportation Cochin Port Trust would extend necessary assistance.

One of the participants wanted to know about the quality of the vessels required to be maintained as tourists may not like the movement of hazardous cargo in the water way. He suggested to review the quality of the vessels to be plied in NW3 keeping in view the safety aspects and ensure Registration under some Act.

Secretary, MOS stated that vessels were required to be registered under Cochin Harbour Rules or IV Act and sought the State Govt's cooperation in this regard.

Shri. Chandra Mohan, Dy. Chief Coordinator, NATPAC wanted to know whether .new agencies would be allowed to construct/operate additional berth modules at the time of expansion, in case the agency appointed for the first module is not capable of taking of additional work.

The Chairman, IWAI stated that the BOT projects would generally be for a period of 30 years and the genuine interests of investors would be protected. Modalities were yet to be finalised and requested the private' sector investors interested in BOT projects for construction of IWT terminals at 11 places in NW3 to respond to EOI to be issued by IWAI. Also one-to-one discussion can be held with the concerned agencies. Private sector agencies should respond quickly before CPWD, who have been assigned the construction of terminals, made considerable progress making it difficult to withdraw the work from CPWD.

One of the participants wanted to know whether vessel building subsidy would be available only to steel made vessels of 20 m length.

Secretary, MOS clarified that such a stipulation was not in the vessel building subsidy scheme. Concluding the pre-lunch session, Prof. K. V .Thomas stated that the decisions taken during the meet will be discussed in the State Cabinet meeting. The Minister appealed to all that the future constructions either of bridges or jetties should keep aesthetics in mind.

Resuming the post lunch interactive session, Chairman, IWAI stated that the idea of holding Interactive Meet was to bring to the notice of the public and private sector organisations, the opportunities for their participation in the light of new government policy and solicit proposals for investment in IWT Sector. I W AI can have equity participation upto 40%.

One of the participants wanted to know if there was any Govt policy for cargo transportation by IWT and whether there was any proposal to provide incentives in this regard.

Chairman, IWAI clarified that government has directed for movement of some percentage of cargo by IWT. However, at present no subsidy on freight was available, but 30% vessel building subsidy would be provided. Adequate depth, width, etc. would be provided within 2.1/2 years uniformly in NW-3. IWT mode should be used in the interest of the State and country's economy.

Shri. Jay Kumar from Ocean Sparkles Ltd sought information on continuation of Loan Interest Subsidy Scheme. ( LISS ) and suggested that vessel building subsidy should be applicable to imported vessels also which were cheaper than indigenous ones as otherwise costlier indigenously built vessels get subsidised.

Joint Secretary, MOS clarified that LISS was no more in existence and in its place, vessel subsidy is under formulation.

One of the participants wanted to know time frame for the vessels building subsidy scheme to publish and its effective date.

Joint Secretary, Shipping stated. that the schemes would be finalised soon and it would be  hassle free and transparent. He Invited suggestions on the scheme from the participants.

Executive Engineer, National Highways expressed that providing vertical clearances (under bridges) above HFL would be costlier due to lengthy approach roads and suggested that it should be w.r.t. Mean Water Level in stead of HFL.

Secretary, MOS agreed to examine the suggestion.

One of the participants from Inland navigation section, mentioned that while 1 HP engine can move 4000 kg in water, it can move only 500 kg by Rail and only 150 kg
by Road and suggested :-
i) to include IWT in concurrent list;
ii) to provide infrastructure system suitable to the local conditions;
iii) to prevent movement of hazardous cargo like acids by Road.

Secretary, Shipping, MOS stated that the suggestion would be kept in mind while taking decisions.

Shri. Gopalakrishnan from Capital Markets, Bombay, suggested to make smaller projects for development and expressed desire to assist in developing the same.

Shri. Ajit Kumar, Thykoodam, requested to provide protection to banks to prevent damages to the banks.

Prof. K. V. Thomas and Chairman, CPT suggested to consider provision of vegetative bank protection along the banks in narrow reaches.

Joint Secretary, Shipping, MOS stated that the suggestion would be examined by IWAI.

Shri. Abraham Kuruvilla of ABC & Sons wanted the Govt to consider programmes for micro level development of the waterway,

Secretary, MOS clarified that a task force under the Chairmanship of Chairman, Cochin Port Trust with representatives from the PWD , Tourism Department of the State Govt. and Director, IWAI had already been proposed in the meet itself which would closely monitor the works at micro level.

Managing Director, Casino Hotels expressed that movement of IWT barges may affect tourism in the area and wanted to know if there was any proposal to provide passenger terminals along with the cargo terminals by IWAI.

Chairman, IWAI stated that the barge movement would not cause pollution as IWT is the most environment friendly mode of transport. However, the concern will be kept in mind.

He also clarified that there was no proposal to provide exclusive passenger terminal along with cargo terminals. However, IWAI would consider provision of rest sheds, toilets etc. at terminal sites, which could be used by the passengers. Authority would also ensure good aesthetic appearance in consonance with the environment of the terminal structures with a view to make them places of attraction for the tourists. Prof. K. V. Thomas also stressed the need for construction of terminals with good architectural value.

One of the participants wanted to know the possibility of having a mega project for development of waterway between Kasargode to Kovalam with ADB/WB funding in place of stretch-wise development of waterway as being done in China.

Secretary, Irrigation, Govt of Kerala informed that the state govt had already taken up with World bank for development of IWT along with Road transport. Project report was being prepared through consultant. State govt. had identified 3 waterways. namely, (i) Alappuzha- Kottayam (23KM), (ii) Alappuzha-Chenganasserry (28KM) and (iii) Kottayam-Vaikkom (42KM).The places to be widened in these stretches had been identified. And a dredging quantity of 1,56,000 cu.mts (85000 cu.mts in A-K canal; 37000 cu.mts in A-C canal and 34000 cu.mts in K-V canal) was estimated besides bank protection with vegetation, night navigation aids replacement/modification of bridges and maintenance dredging. 23 bridges had been repaired & 3 jetties ( at Vaikkom, Alappuzha and Thannermukkom in NW3) renovated.

Shri S.K. Misra, Secretary, IWAl thanked the chair, distinguished guests, namely, Prof. K.V. Thomas, Hon'ble Minister for Tourism and Fisheries, Govt. of Kerala, Sri George Eden, Hon'ble Member of Parliament, MP, Sri K.Babu, Hon'ble MLA, Sri Dominic Presentation, Hon'ble MLA and Sri K. Mohammed Ali, Hon'ble MLA, Sri V.K. Ibrahim Kunju, Hon'ble MLA, all the participants from private agencies, public sector undertakings and Govt. Officials etc. for their overwhelming response to the Meet. He specially thanked the representatives of media for wide coverage of the meet and issues related IWT.
The delegates there after left for a brief waterway visit by boat, which was followed by a cultural programme at Bolghatty Island sponsored by the Department of Tourism, Govt. of Kerala. The participants were apprised of the channel conditions and the operational aspects of the Inland Water Transport system during the waterway inspection.

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