Other States

Bengal to revive 135-year-old Shalimar Shipyard

Firhad Hakim. File Photo.  

West Bengal will revitalise the 135-year-old Howrah-based Shalimar Shipyard which, during its heyday, was a major ship-repair unit on the entire east coast but has witnessed stagnation in the recent decades.

Though the facility still manufactures vessels, including for the Navy, it has long been overtaken by other players — both government and private — in the business. The original shipyard was established by Turner Morrison in 1885 and, after Independence, changed hands several times before being taken over by the government of West Bengal in 1980.

“We are looking at Shalimar seriously because restructuring will make it profitable, and that will be a feather in the cap of the State government. So far it was run by retired people, but to re-energise it we have now appointed a young IAS officer [Transport Corporation MD Rajanvir Singh Kapur] as its new chairman,” Transport Minister Firhad Hakim said at the site on Monday.

“Our top priority is financial restructuring and space utilisation and to bring back the business that is now going to the private sector. If an MBA can successfully run a private enterprise, why can’t an IAS officer, who is no less meritorious, run a government organisation?” Mr. Hakim said.

The Shalimar Works has produced close to 600 vessels so far and its clients have included several government and private organisations. Mr. Hakim said maintenance and repairs of the vessels of the Transport Department would now be done only through Shalimar. A World Bank project on Inland Waterways, he said, would also bring maintenance and repair works to the shipyard.

Riverine tourism

“We would try to make Shalimar a preferred stop for ship repair and maintenance. Also, as per the vision of the government, we would come up with AC vessels that could be plied and booked as chartered on Hooghly River. This would be helpful for riverine tourism as well upscale the riverine transport of Kolkata,” Mr. Kapur told The Hindu.

Mr. Kapur, who took charge as the WBTC MD only in January 2020, is the brain behind the Calcutta Tram World, an ongoing project that’s set to transform the neglected Gariahat tram depot into a cultural centre. Until late last year, a large portion of the still-in-use depot, right in the heart of the city, served as a dump yard. Thanks to the project, the 24 trams that stood junked there were saved from going to the scrap dealer, with 12 of them becoming part of a museum, their interiors exhibiting items and pictures from the bygone era.

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Printable version | Aug 2, 2021 5:18:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bengal-to-revive-135-year-old-shalimar-shipyard/article34822156.ece

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