Thursday, January 13, 2022

International Ship Classification Society Issues Disaster Safety Plans for Very Diverse Ports

From Seafood to Shipbreaking Emergency Measures Need to be in Place
Shipping News Feature

INDIA – The ports operated by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB), a government agency of the Government of Gujarat, are about the most diverse bunch of facilities which can be imagined under the title. Now in a bid to ensure an upgrade in safety, the Indian Register of Shipping (IRS) has prepared Disaster Management Plans (DMP) for all properties in what is literally the GMB portfolio.

The full list of ports includes Bhavnagar, Jafrabad, Mandvi, Okha, Porbandar and Veraval. But most controversially, Alang, of which more later. The other six facilities share a rich and diverse history, ranging from those almost entirely based on the local fishing industry and small boat building outfits, up to such as the Port of Porbandar which has the capacity for handling millions of tonnes of local products, from cement to agriculture.

Disaster Management Plans are essential in helping ports respond effectively and promptly in times of emergencies and ensures that normal functioning of the ports is restored in the shortest possible timeframe with minimal impact. The elephant in the room however is the shipbreaking port of Alang, the largest such facility in the world, and a name often associated by many with tragedy, and a reputation for danger and pollution, something the locals have been trying to fight.

The GMB, in the process of enhancing the safety of its ports, assigned IRS the work of preparing the DMP as per NDMA and NDMP guidelines. Subsequently, a ‘Master DMP’ was prepared considering all GMB operated ports. These ports have special significance as they are spread over a large coastal area and represent the trade of the hinterland region and the industrial belt. Capt. Ashwin Solanki, Chief Nautical Officer, Gujarat Maritime Board said:

“GMB is committed to offer it's best efforts to achieve zero casualty in event of any disasters. As a leading maritime board, GMB places top priority on ensuring minimal disruption to the functioning of its ports. Through the Disaster Management Plans we aim to establish a framework for emergency preparedness. We appreciate the professional and timely efforts from Indian Register of Shipping in this regard”.

While preparing the DMP’s, the international ship classification society conducted several in-person surveys in order to identify the various foreseen and unforeseen risk factors and devised means to best contain, combat and resolve these risks by mobilising the required resources which could include human as well as material resources. This is done by reviewing the relevant documents, infrastructure and interacting with the port officers to understand the roles and responsibilities of the various personnel.

IRS has also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GMB towards collaboration for the updating and preparation of the DMP for all ports under GMB control. Dr. Asokendu Samanta, Divisional Head, Research & Development Division at IRS concluded:

"Ports are gateways for our trade routes and are important cogs in the supply chain system. It is therefore important for ports to prepare for any eventuality to ensure seamless movement of trade. IRS is happy to support and provide our services to GMB to help combat these eventualities.”

Photo: The beaches at Alang are littered with the corpses of old vessels of all types.