MORE RESILIENT AND GREENER PRACTICES IN THE OCEAN ARE ESSENTIAL FOR A HEALTHY ECOSYSTEM: PRESIDENT MURMU
The President of India, Smt Droupadi Murmu graced and addressed the 8th convocation of Indian Maritime University at Chennai, Tamil Nadu today (October 27, 2023).
Speaking on the occasion, the President said that India has a remarkable marine position with a 7,500 km long coastline and 1,382 offshore islands. She added that India has 14,500 kilometers of potentially navigable waterways, apart from a strategic location on important maritime trade routes. The country’s maritime sector plays a vital role in its trade and economic growth, as 95 percent of the country’s trade by volume and 65 percent of the trade by value is undertaken through maritime transport. The coastal economy sustains over 4 million fishermen and India is the second largest fish-producing nation in the world with a fleet of about 2,50,000 fishing boats.
The President said that before we can fully exploit the potential of this sector, we will have to overcome several challenges. She added that a lot of container ship cargo is diverted to nearby foreign ports due to depth restrictions. She further said that in the merchant and civilian shipbuilding industry, we need to aim for the highest standards of efficiency, efficacy and competitiveness. She highlighted that the operational efficiency and turnaround time of Indian ports need to match the global average benchmarks. She added that the Indian ports must address infrastructural and operational challenges before they graduate to the next level. She stated that the Sagarmala programme is a significant move away from “port development” to “port-led development”.
The President said that one of the gravest challenges of our time is climate catastrophe which includes rising temperatures and sea levels. The maritime sector needs to be agile, proactive and swift in adaptation and mitigation of climate change which risks disrupting livelihoods, particularly among vulnerable communities. She said that students have not only professional responsibility but also an obligation towards the health of ecology and ecosystem. The need of the hour is sustainable and efficient maritime-related activities including shipping. More resilient and greener practices in the ocean are also essential for a healthy ecosystem.
The President said that despite being one of the youngest of the Central Universities, Indian Maritime University has proved its mettle. It has the potential to shine as the globally acclaimed centre of excellence for maritime education, research, training, driving academic partnerships and capacity building, while broadening its expertise to allied disciplines such as maritime law, ocean governance and marine sciences.