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`Sethu project will boost coastal trade'

By Our Staff Reporter

CHENNAI, NOV. 18. Coastal trade will "flourish to a great extent" on implementation of the Sethusamudram project, the Governor, Surjit Singh Barnala, said here today.

Inaugurating the World Shipping Forum-2004 today, being organised here by the Chennai branch of the Institute of Marine Engineers (India), he said, the project, a 144-year-old dream of peninsular India, was due to become a reality soon. The project involved dredging in the Palk Straits to develop a navigable channel for cargo ships.

Noting that ports played a major role in transportation of goods, Mr. Barnala said: "Effective planning and proper utilisation of transport facilities augment the growth of trade and business."

The Governor also inaugurated an exhibition coinciding with the forum.

N. Kumar, Vice-Chairman of the Sanmar Group, delivering the keynote address, said the business models adopted by the shipping companies would come under close scrutiny from their customers.

"They are going to look at your business models to ensure that you have systems for logistics, talent retention, security, corporate governance and ethics in place before they deal with you," he pointed out.

Underlining the need to attract and retain talent, he said the lack of sufficient manpower was a cause of concern for the shipping industry. He said the rising oil prices and the emphasis on exploitation and transportation of alternate sources would open up new opportunities for the industry.

The Ennore Port Chairman and Managing Director, M. Raman, said the Centre was in the process of formulating a maritime policy focussing on all aspects connected to shipping.

The policy, he said, sought to create a favourable environment to encourage public-private partnerships, provide a greater role for the private sector while the government would be a facilitating agency.

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