Urging the Centre to take the lead role in the revival of maritime trade from Kolkata, West Bengal transport secretary Alapan Bandyopadhyay on Wednesday promised the state government’s full cooperation and support in the process that will eventually open doors to investors and businesses.
“West Bengal stands to gain tremendously if we were to reopen maritime trade from here,’’ Bandyopadhyay said, while addressing a gathering at the Maritime India Summit Road show here. The event is a precursor to the Maritime India Summit 2016 to be held in Mumbai between April 14-16 which is to be inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A flagship initiative by the Ministry of Shipping, the aim of the summit is to attract investment and business opportunities in coastal areas and revive maritime activities in the country including ship-building and repair, development of new ports, port-based industrial development, maritime cluster development, national waterways for domestic connectivity, facilitate cargo and passenger movement and even develop cruises and lighthouse tourism.
Pointing out the roadblocks to develop maritime infrastructure, Bandyopadhyay said,“As many as 10 cruises have been added recently, but there are no parking areas or marinas for the cruise ships which is an issue. We are willing to make the marinas, but we need land for this from the Kolkata Port Trust. We have written to them on the issue and held meetings with port trust authorities as well.”
For the purpose, the state transport department has identified areas, such as Babughat in Kolkata, based on the criteria of circular rail connectivity and good parking space, Bandyopadhyay added.
Stressing on the need to upgrade riverside infrastructure, the minister said, “Even if deep-sea ports come up, unless inland waterways are developed, we will never really be able to take advantage of them and reach full potential.’’
Bandyopadhyay further said the heritage conservation body should look at documenting and preserving Bengal’s maritime heritage.
“For instance, if the lighthouses of Bengal can be documented and listed, these places can be turned into great tourism spots. If INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) agrees, the West Bengal government is willing to bear the cost of the project,” he added.