A dispute within the ruling alliance over the location of the country’s first maritime university seems to have been resolved.
The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Transport and Tourism on Thursday recommended the setting up of five maritime universities and minister TR Baalu has accepted the proposal in principle, government sources said.
The Left and Baalu’s party DMK, had almost come to blows when he was introducing the bill in March last year, to set up the university in Chennai. The Left parties, whose support is crucial for the UPA, had demanded that the university be set up in Kolkata. The bill was referred to the Standing Committee, chaired by CPM leader Sitaram Yechury.
The committee recommended five universities in Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Visakhapatnam and Kochi. As Yechury tabled the report in the Rajya Sabha, Baalu clapped in appreciation.
The report said: “The committee was of the opinion that a single university is unlikely to suffice the needs of education, training and research to meet the growing demands of maritime human resources in domestic and global markets”.
Trained maritime professionals work in the merchant navy throughout the world. Government figures show that at present, there are more than 27,000 Indian officers and 55,000 lower ranking personnel employed in vessels across the globe.
Yechury admitted that the issue of location of the university was sensitive, but said: “The committee did not go into the geographical fight, as it was unfortunate that India with a vast coastline and maritime sector never had a such university while China has six universities.”
The committee, in its report has said that India had a chance to emerge as a major player in augmenting the maritime manpower, which was projected to face a severe shortfall in the coming years.
“There is a projected global shortage of 27,000 officers by the year 2015. India has a chance to increase its share from the current 6 per cent to 20 per cent in the world maritime manpower fleet,” the report said.
Arguing for more universities to produce trained Maritime manpower, the report said: “India is the 20th largest maritime country in the world, but countries with reasonable coastlines like Japan, Vietnam, Poland, Turkey, Russia etc, are having more Maritime Universities than India.”
The parliamentary committee has recommended to the government to bring a new bill in parliament for the creation of five universities, instead of one.