‘China is way ahead of India’

India and China ruled the seas in the 14 century at a time when no other nation was on the horizon. India, since then, had ignored its maritime interests due to various factors and today we were near the bottom of the table, Chairman of the Visakhapatnam Port Trust Ajeya Kallam said on Friday.

“China has fared much better and today it is the largest shipbuilding nation in the world. India stands fifth with an insignificant percentage contribution to the world shipping capacities,” he said addressing a function organised to celebrate the 50 National Maritime Day at the Deputy Conservator’s Office.

After Independence, the policymakers had ignored maritime trade, he said, adding that investment in this sector could have created a lot of jobs. Waterways were not only the cheapest form of transport but also helped save energy and cause minimal pollution, he pointed out.

It was unfortunate that due to our policy short-sight we did not have shipping capacities that were required to carry our strategically important cargo such as petroleum. “We have to depend on foreign carriers and their availability which is scary,” he said. The Visakhapatnam port had recorded a negative growth for the first time in its history because the ongoing expansion works had reduced the cargo handling capacities, said VPT Deputy Chairman G.V.L. Satya Kumar.

“Sacrifice is essential to ensure the port has a future and is ready to meet the emerging challenges,” he noted. “It is this willingness to look at the future that is essential, but missing in the larger context of the nation,” he pointed out.

There was a need to focus on safety at workplace and everyone needed to follow the safety protocol to the last word, Engineer & Surveyor of the Merchant Marine Department S.V. Durga Prasad said, and urged everyone to inculcate a value of safety in their personal and professional lives. VPT Deputy Conservator Capt. S. Mathur, Amit Bhargava of Indian Register of Shipping, VPT Chief Vigilance Officer Mujib Pasha Shaik, Commandant CISF K.K. Chaturvedi, and senior representative of business G. Pattabhi Ramayya, Harbour Master Capt. V. Ram Prasad, and Dock Master Capt. S. Tiwari were present.

Prizes were given away to winners of the essay writing, elocution, photography, and painting competitions conducted among students of various schools in the city.

A fibre glass pilot boat OB Rattanberry was launched to mark the occasion.

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