The shipping sector is gradually embracing renewable energy: Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar
India’s shipping ministry initiated a slew of measures for the maritime sector in the past two years to increase the country’s port cargo traffic to 2.5 billion tonne (BT) from 1 BT at present. Shipping secretary Rajive Kumar, who took charge on 1 December 2014 and belongs to the 1981-batch of the Indian Administrative Service from the Uttar Pradesh cadre, in an emailed interview outlines the contours of the National Democratic Alliance government’s ambitious Sagarmala programme, inland waterways scheme and the push for green energy.
Kumar holds a postgraduate degree in physics. He also has a masters degree in public administration from the Harvard University. Edited excerpts: Shipping assets such as lighthouses and vessels are embracing solar power. What is the strategy and deadline to move towards solar power?
It’s been a constant endeavour of the ministry of shipping to promote use of renewable energy. Earlier, most lighthouses under the Directorate General of Lighthouses and Lightships (DGLL) were operating on conventional sources of energy which consumed fossil fuels and emitted high amount of carbon dioxide increasing greenhouse effect and causing air pollution. To reduce this, DGLL has decided to replace the source of energy utilised at lighthouses to renewable sources and started harnessing solar energy to operate lighthouses. Till date, 176 lighthouses (out of 193) have been fully solarised. DGLL plans to achieve complete solarisation of all lighthouses by the 31 December 2016. With complete solarisation of lighthouses, approximately 1.5MW (megawatt) energy will be generated which will approximately reduce emission of 6,000kg of greenhouse gases per day.
We have also started the ‘Green Port Initiative’ under which all major ports across India will be solarised resulting in reduction of carbon emission and improvement of environment besides reducing cost of power purchased from grid by utilisation of solar power.
What is the status of the major ports authority bill? When is it expected to go to the Cabinet? The draft of the major ports authority bill has been sent to the ministry of law for vetting. We are hopeful that the bill will be placed during the winter session of Parliament. When will the Sagarmala Development Co. (SDC) be set up and operationalised? The Cabinet in July approved the formation of SDC under the administrative control of the ministry of shipping. Sagarmala Development Co. was finally incorporated on 1 September 2016. The first board meeting of SDC was held on 21 September 2016.
What are the targets for inland waterways in terms of traffic? According to shipping minister Nitin Gadkari, the government is constructing a 1,620km waterway on river Ganga between Varanasi and Haldia. What is the current status and by when is it set to be completed? The approximate length of navigable waterways in the country is 14,500km. Out of this, a total 4,382km have been declared national waterways. The estimated cargo movement on these waterways by 2022 is estimated to be 159 MT (million tonne), according to the report on Integrated National Waterways Transportation Grid submitted by RITES Ltd in 2014.
The government is developing National Waterway-1 under the Jal Marg Vikas Project with the technical and financial assistance of the World Bank at an estimated cost of Rs.5,369 crore between Varanasi and Haldia in phase I. The project will enable commercial navigation of vessels with capacity of 1,500-2,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage). Phase-I of the project (Haldia-Varanasi stretch) includes development of fairway, construction of multi-modal terminals at Varanasi, Haldia, and Sahibganj, strengthening of river navigation system, conservancy works, modern River Information System, Digital Global Positioning System, night navigation facilities, modern methods of channel marking, assured depth dredging, construction of a new state-of-the-art navigational lock at Farakka, etc.
IWAI (Inland Waterways Authority of India) has already awarded contracts for construction of the multi-modal terminals at Varanasi and Sahibganj, and tenders for other prominent works are expected be awarded by the end of this year. Phase-I of the project is expected to be completed by 2020. What can be expected from the multimodal hub at Sahibganj? Will there be more such hubs? If yes, by when and where? Jharkhand is endowed with close to 80 BT of coal of all categories. The multimodal terminal at Sahibganj will play an important role in transportation of domestic coal from local mines to intended thermal power plants owing to its good railway connectivity. The other cargo expected to be handled at Sahibganj terminal are stone chips, fertilisers and food grains.
The Sahibganj terminal is the second multimodal terminal (out of the total three) to be awarded for construction in a record time. Earlier in May, IWAI awarded the contract to construct a multimodal terminal at Varanasi to AFCONS Infrastructure Ltd. The third terminal will be constructed at Haldia in West Bengal. What is the status of the four ports that the ministry was planning to develop to bring transshipment to India from Colombo? Two new ports are currently being developed at Enayam (Tamil Nadu) and Vizhinjam (Kerala) as part of setting up a transshipment hub at the southern tip of India. Enayam is being developed as a major port by the ministry of shipping. Note seeking in-principle approval for setting up a major port at Enayam had been approved on 5 July 2016 by the Union Cabinet and a detailed project report is under preparation. Vizhinjam is being developed as a non-major port under PPP (public-private-partnership) mode by the government of Kerala with a viability gap funding from the government of India.