India needs to upgrade security at ports, shipyards:Panel

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Kochi, Oct 12 (UNI) A high-powered committee set up by the Central Government to review security preparedness of major ports and shipyards has found the shipping sector ''vulnerable'' and has recommended leveraging of IT and standardisation of security protocols to meet world standards.

The committee, headed by Cochin Port Trust Chairman N Ramachandran, presented its report to Union Shipping Minister T R Baalu this morning. The committee also made a presentation before the Minister and Secretary, Shipping, A K Mohapatra, a CPT release said here.

According to the report, in view of the vulnerability of the shipping sector, there was a need for the Government to take several measures to enhance security. However, the additional measures should be calibrated in such a manner that there was no slowing down of operational efficiencies or throughput, it said.

Emphasising the need for standardisation of systems and processes to meet world standards of operations and security protocols, the committee said there should be a disaster management and recovery plan for all ports which should be rehearsed regularly.

It has also recommended that a body be set up at the national level for standardisation, regulation and oversight.

As regards the cost of security, the committee has recommended that the additional costs should not be passed on to the trade, as it could make Indian imports and exports less competitive but be borne by the Central Government.

In an effort to improve the security of the country's maritime infrastructure, Mr Baalu had chaired a meeting in Chennai on July 31, 2006, to review the security of ports and maritime supply chains. Subsequently, the committee was set up to review the security preparedness of Indian ports and shipyards.

The Ministry has also taken the initiative to articulate a maritime security policy and to ensure that all ports upgraded their security levels to conform to the requirements of the International Ship and Port facility Security (ISPS) Code.

UNI

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