The Government of India will curb entry of old ships into the country's territorial waters and ports; this was announced by Mr G.K. Vasan, Minister of Shipping in Parliament last week. Vasan said that ships over twenty-five years old would have to meet additional conditions before being allowed entry. The move comes after widespread criticism of maritime policy after the Pavit and Wisdom incidents- and the earlier Chitra-Khalijia 3 collision- in Mumbai.
The minister said that the government's proposal would require that old ships be approved by a classification society that is a full member of the International Association of Classification Societies (IACS) and have adequate insurance coverage for salvage, collision and wreck removal. The destination port must also be notified about the full particulars and other details of the ship at least two days before arrival. Additionally, an Indian agent must be appointed by either the charterer or ship owner.
Indian ships have apparently been exempted from the Ministry's proposal. Referring to 'about 93 Indian ships over 25 years of age', Vasan told parliament, “They will not be affected as they are all classed with the Indian Register of Shipping which is a full member of the IACS.”
It may be recalled that the Capt. P.V.K. Mohan Committee, constituted by the Shipping Ministry late last year to conduct an enquiry into the Chitra-Khalijia 3 collision, had recommended banning the entry of ships more than 25 years old in Indian ports. More recently, the State of Gujarat was the first to announce a clampdown on older ships after the Mumbai incidents.