Ports to be allowed to carry out dredging on own

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Mumbai, July 12 (UNI) Port authorities will be empowered to carry out dredging on their own rather than approach the Centre for clearance and funds for the same.

This was informed by Union Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways secretary A P V N Sarma while speaking at the Indian Maritime Expo here recently.

Mr Sarma said the Indian maritime sector is poised for a great leap forward. Investment in the port sector is expected to be about 12 billion dollars, of which over 70 per cent will be from the private sector, he said.

Mr Sarma informed that this year, major ports have handled 534 mn tons of cargo and minor ports have handled 132 million tons.

By 2012, they will cross 1,000 million tons, he said.

Director General of Shipping Kiran Dhingra, speaking on the occasion, highlighted the problems faced by the Indian shipping industry. She referred to the shortage of officers since they were being wooed away by foreign vessels at higher tax-free pay.

Mrs Dhingra informed that the Indian flags would be able to recruit officers from foreign countries in the immediate future as the Government proposes to lift the restrictions on their recruitment. Only the approval of the Ministry of External Affairs is awaited in this regard.

India Trade Promotion Organisation chairman and managing director Sheela Bhide, while elaborating on the need to organise the exposition, said, ''There is a huge potential in this sector and we are here to bring users and suppliers to showcase emerging technologies.'' All India Association of Industries (AIAI) President Vijay G Kalantri, speaking on the occasion said, ''the Indian trade and commerce is looking up and it is high time that the country's shipping sector is strengthened to carry out EXIM trade.'' Mr Kalantri reiterated the need to improve railway and road connectivity to major and minor ports to reduce transaction costs and make them user friendly.

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