Promoting water transport is the highest priority of the government, Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari said Monday, as the Rajya Sabha passed two bills to amend the merchant shipping act."Water transport is the highest priority for government. If road transport costs Rs.15, railways cost Rs.1, waterways cost just Rs. 0.50. Yet we have been subsidising and promoting the most expensive transport," Gadkari said in the Rajya Sabha before moving The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill, 2013, and The Merchant Shipping (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013 for passage.He said government will be building ports across the country, and in the states that do not have sea, dry ports and satellite ports will be built.
The minister also admitted that India's shipping industry is in a bad state."The shipping in industry is in a bad state, we have to see what we can do for it," he said.Gadkari also said that he has requested Prime Minister Narendra Modi to contemplate on forming a flagship scheme for promoting waterways.The Merchant Shipping (Amendment) Bill seeks to add new provisions to the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 to comply with the International Convention for the Control of Harmful Anti-Fouling Systems on Ships, 2001.Anti-fouling paints are applied to the bottom of the ships to protect it from erosion from sea water and rusting.
The second bill, The Merchant Shipping (Second Amendment) Bill, proposes to amend the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, to bring it in conformity with the International Labour Organisation's Maritime Labour Convention, 2006, which lays down the standards for the living and working conditions of seafarers, including their food, accommodation, medical care, social security, and recruitment.
Gadkari also informed the elders that enough measures have been taken to keep track of pirates in the Indian Ocean off Somalia."We have rescued all those who were held captive by pirates. Indian Navy has deployed a ship with special guards in the Indian Ocean near the pirate infested area," he added.