Shipping plays an important role in
the overall transportation chain of the country. It is the optimal low
cost option for the transportation of bulk cargo. It has a huge multiplier
effect in terms of boosting trade, creating employment and earning foreign
exchange. It also energises other ancillary sectors like shipbuilding,
shipbreaking, ship repairing, maritime training, etc.
The Indian shipping industry, over the years, has come to occupy a predominant place in the country's coastal trade. It has developed a strong legacy of physical and financial assets; excellent manpower resource; vast knowledge base; and reliable infrastructure. India has the largest merchant shipping fleet among the developing countries and ranks 17th globally in shipping tonnage. The shipping tonnage, which was only 1.92 lakhs Gross Registered Tonnage (GRT) on the eve of Independence, now stands at 9.02 million GRT with 850 vessels (as on 31st December, 2007). During 2007, the share of Indian ships in the total overseas trade was around 12.2 per cent. Besides, there are 28 shipyards across the country which are fast emerging on the global platform as preferred destinations for building vessels. India also contributes significantly towards international cooperation in maritime shipping by participating in the activities of the various international bodies like
International Maritime Organisation
Given India's strategic location, there is tremendous potential for further development of the shipping industry. Accordingly, the Government has been taking several policy measures and incentives for encouraging the growth of this sector. These include rationalization of the fiscal regime for the shipping industry by introducing tonnage tax system, in lieu of corporate tax, from the financial year 2005-06, in order to provide the Indian shipping industry a level playing field vis-à-vis international shipping companies and also facilitate the growth of Indian tonnage. The Dredgers have also been included in the tonnage tax regime from 2006-07. Also, the National Shipping Board has been established as a permanent statutory body, under the
Merchant Shipping Act, 1958, to advise the Government on matters related to shipping including development thereof.
General of Shipping, an attached office of the Ministry
of Shipping, was established for administering the Merchant Shipping Act, 1958 on all matters relating to shipping
policy and legislation; implementation of various International Conventions
relating to safety, prevention of pollution and other mandatory regulations
of the International Maritime Organizations; etc. It is also responsible
for creation of the trained manpower required for the merchant navy fleet
of the country. For meeting this requirement, the Directorate General
imparts pre-sea and post-sea training in various disciplines through a
number of training institutes both in public and private sector.
In public sector, the four training institutes under the
umbrella of Indian
Institute of Maritime Studies (IIMS), Mumbai
Engineering and Research Institute (MERI), Kolkata
Engineering and Research Institute (MERI),Mumbai
Bahadur Shastri College of Advanced Maritime Studies and Research, Mumbai.
Corporation of India Ltd (SCI), formed in 1961 by amalgamation of Eastern Shipping Corporation Ltd (ESC) and Western Shipping Corporation of India Ltd (WSC), is the largest shipping company in India. It is also one of the most diversified shipping companies in the world. Starting as a marginal liner shipping company with just 19 vessels, the SCI (as on 30.11.2007) owns and operates 79 vessels of a total Gross Tonnage (GT) of 27.30 lakhs [47.59 lakhs Dead Weight Tonnage (DWT)]. It's fleet comprises of general cargo vessels, cellular container vessels, crude oil tankers, product tankers, bulk carriers, LPG/Ammonia carriers, acid carriers, passenger vessels and offshore supply vessels. It is today the only Indian shipping company operating break-bulk service, international container service, liquid / dry bulk service, offshore service, passenger service, in addition to manning/ managing a large number of vessels on behalf of various Government departments and organisations.