New regulations to take effect before next monsoon

Members of the National Shipping Board (NSB) on Friday urged the Centre to ban bulk loading of iron ore in 25-year-old vessels in Indian ports to avoid casualties.

Talking to reporters on conclusion of the 113th board meeting, its chairman P.V.K. Mohan said only duly certified bulk carriers should be allowed to load iron ore from Indian ports, for which regulations had been drafted by the Director General of Shipping.

They would come into effect before the next monsoon. By doing so, India would become the first country to ban bulk loading of iron ore fines in junk vessels.

Referring to Black Rose and Asian Forest vessels that sank off the Indian coast soon after loading iron ore, he said: “We do not want such type of incidents to happen. We also do not want sub-standard ships to enter our ports. Currently, we do not have any regulation to ban loading of iron ore into junk or age old ships. To salvage the situation during monsoon period, we will have more tugs and manpower so that the reaction time will be quick.”

Fishing ports

NSB members also suggested moving fishing ports about 20 to 30 km away from major ports, implementing Vehicle Traffic Management System (VTMS) compulsorily and consolidating issues of non-major ports with that of major ports to strengthen security along the coastline.

Chennai Port Trust Chairman Subhash Kumar said the idea was mooted at Friday's meeting and they were yet to give a thought about the Kasimedu fishing harbour.

On VTMS, Capt. Kumar said the Chennai Port Trust was a pioneer in introducing new technologies and would award the Rs.13-crore contract on Monday.

It would be introduced within a year.