Calling for increasing Indian control over its maritime activity to ensure safety and security on the seas, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said India's maritime sector is of vital significance.
"India's maritime sector is of vital significance to our economy and every effort should be made to strengthen it," Singh said at the golden jubilee celebrations of the state-owned Shipping Corporation of India here.
He said that in the context of India's growing trade and increasing energy demand, there is an urgent need to further develop the national fleet.
"Any industry can thrive only in an atmosphere of safety and security," he said.
The Prime Minister added that incidents of piracy and armed robbery against ships posed a serious threat to India's seaborne trade besides putting at risk a large number of Indian seafarers.
He said the Indian Navy, Coast Guard and shipping companies are putting a concerted effort in close coordination with other international agencies to deal with the menace.
Singh underlined the need for seamless integration of various modes of transport and called for coordinated development of shipping industry, land-based logistics and the port sector.
"Much greater attention needs to be paid to ensuring good road and rail connectivity to ports, especially the new minor ports coming up in the private sector," he said.
Informing that the government has set up the National Transport Development Policy Committee under the chairmanship of Rakesh Mohan, Singh said the committee will provide useful suggestions on these issues.
He also placed thrust on development of coastal shipping and inland waterways as environment-friendly and fuel-efficient modes of transport for optimising logistics costs and reaching hinterland.
He said special attention needs to be paid to the remote areas of the northeast.
Maharashtra governor K Sankaranarayanan, chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, Union minister for shipping GK Vasan, minister of state for shipping Mukul Roy, secretary general of the International Maritime Organisation, E Mitropoulos, and secretary, shipping, government of India, K Mohandas were present at the event.
The Shipping Corporation of India, incorporated Oct 2, 1961, is India's largest shipping line owning 82 vessels. It accounts for one-third of India's total shipping tonnage.
It employs a highly-skilled workforce of over 4,000 seafarers on board and around 1,000 on shore.