The Ministry of Shipping is planning to speed up its efforts to create a Marine Emergency Fund to be used for relief operations in the aftermath of marine casualties, including loss of ships and oil spills in the Indian territorial waters.
‘Measures such as the early creation of the fund and putting in place an emergency response mechanism have climbed higher on the Shipping Ministry’s priority list in the wake of a sharp increase in the number of marine casualties across Indian waters in the last few years. The proposal for creation of an emergency fund emerged after a high-level committee, headed by the Directorate-General of Shipping, made a string of recommendations to reduce such incidents. The Ministry is also considering a proposal to have an emergency response mechanism for responding to emergency situations, such as salvaging sunken ships and combating oil pollution. Some of the proposed measures may require suitable legislative changes. The committee made a sharp focus on the need to restrict movement of older vessels, as these vessels accounted for a bigger slice of the casualties. Ministry figures indicate that in the last three monsoons alone some 30 ships sank, out of which about 60 per cent were above 25 years old.