The Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) is entrusted with the task of port operations and port regulations. It is also responsible for the shipbuilding and breaking activities. Going beyond, GMB is now planning to set up Maritime University and Maritime Cluster, says A K Rakesh, Vice Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Gujarat Maritime Board, in conversation with Nirav Soni of Elets News Network (ENN)
What ICT practices have been adopted by GMB for effective and efficient functioning of ports across Gujarat?
We are planning to implement Port Operations Management System (POMS). It will connect all 11 groups of ports to the head office, which in turn are connecting 44 ports of Gujarat. There would be constant flow of all kinds of information seamlessly from the ports to the head office. This will increase our work efficiency in a big way. In future, we will also implement an ERP system and Human Resource System and these steps will boost the organisation.
What are the main features of POMS?
In order to achieve accelerated cargo and container handling times and greater organisational reliability of the transport chain end to end, it is important to modify the business parameters. Improved conditions have to be established for handling the goods and the reception of various modes of transport, not only in terms of infrastructure and equipment, but also when it comes to ICT. Using ICT in port operations is required to ensure accurate, timely, and, whenever feasible, real-time information on the status of all transactions, vessel activities, cargo operations and marine services. Well-managed vessel traffic is one of the key components for successful port operation. Using ICT integrated with radar and automatic identification systems in vessel traffic management system enables tracking of vessel movement and provides improved safety at the entrance and anchorage areas, along with main routes to berths.
At present, we are manning the ports with around 308 Gujarat Industrial Security Force (GISF) personnel, but it is not enough. We want to increase the number of personnel in this area. Probably, we may go for a battalion of the State Reserve Police personnel, calling them a Marine State Reserve Police. That apart, we are planning to implement Integrated Security Management System (ISMS), which will have the boundary control with a fully integrated surveillance system with CCTV cameras installed at major ports.
What initiatives are being undertaken for capacity building and on the human resource front?
Capacity at ports is constantly getting enhanced every year. In the year 2014-15, we have added a capacity of 35 million tonnes. Today, we have a capacity of 450 million tonnes. Along with this, we are trying to increase the efficiency of ports by introducing latest technologies. We are also renovating our jetties, which in turn is encouraging our private ports to increase the capacity. Connectivity is an issue, whether through the railways or by way of roads.
We are taking a futuristic initiative on the human resource front and coming up with a Maritime University. We understand that the need of the hour is to have trained manpower especially in commercial side of the port sector. As of now, the available institutes train people on the technical side, and our Maritime focuses on commercial and legal aspects of port operations.
Similarly, we feel that there is an urgent need of a maritime cluster, and we have taken a decision in principle to set it up, where all soft services required by the port sector will be available at one place. This, in turn, will facilitate business through port sector for everybody. Personnel from each division will be available at one place, be it maritime financing companies, maritime lawyers, steam doers to charters, for ease of doing business in a structured manner.
Capacity at ports is constantly rising every year. In the year 2014-15, we have added a capacity of 35 million tonnes… Along with this, we are also trying to increase the efficiency of ports by introducing latest technologies
What steps have been undertaken by the Government of Gujarat and GMB together for attracting FDI?
Gujarat is the first State to go for private investment in the port sector and today we have four big ports being managed by private players. Mundra Port is the biggest port in the country today. The quantum of cargo handled by Mundra today is to the tune of 115 million tonnes, though it came much after the well-established ports in the country were set up after the Independence. Mundra was established at the start of this century, and today it is number one port in India. We have very investment-friendly policy to invite private players.
In the ship-building area, there are already nine ship-building yards in Gujarat and around 15 are in the pipeline. There is a lot of scope for private players in this area. For example, APM terminal that handles around 65 terminals across the globe has acquired the terminal of Pipavav Port.
Can you please elaborate on the ship-building areas?
We are taking the advantage of long coastline of Gujarat. Our proactive measures, the bureaucracy and the State Government have played a crucial role in bringing up ship building as a separate industry in Gujarat, though at the moment, it is in distress. In fact, we had come up with Ship Building Policy in 2010. Ship building is the area where we don’t go for bidding, and are allocating water front on firstcome- first-serve basis, of course, after looking at the capabilities of the applicant in this area. Since this industry is quite labour-intensive and takes long time to reach fruition, it requires more incentives to be given. We have suggested the State as well as the Central Government to look into it. These incentives are being thought about, and in due course of time, a clear incentive policy will be in place.
Any message you would like to give to the private players in this field?
There is a lot of emphasis by the Central Government on Sagar Mala. This concept basically aims at port-led development. Gujarat probably has shown the way. It has not only gone for port development, but also for port-led development. We have different types of jetties and ports. There is a sea of opportunity available in Gujarat over a 1600 km coastline…there are opportunities for all to explore.