Port Wings News Network:
The Directorate General of Shipping (DGS) has shuttered 14 maritime training institutes in the country for indulging in fraudulent practices as India’s maritime administration steps up efforts to improve the training quality in a bid to capture a larger share of the global seafarers’ market, according to a media report in Business Line.
The list of the closed institutions are: Chennai School of Ship Management; Sailor’s Maritime Academy – Vizianagaram; Marine Medical Clinic – Mumbai; Mariner’s Academy- Mumbai; Seafarers Marine Institute – Mumbai; Univan Maritime Training Academy- Cochin; Centre for Maritime Education and Training – Dehradun; Baba Marine Institute – Mumbai; Aryavart Maritime Institute – Ropar (Punjab)
Pragati Marine College – Mumbai; School of Synergic Studies- Mumbai; Mumbai Maritime Training Institute – Dehradun, and St Xavier’s Technical Institute- Mumbai.
The DGS has also issued notices to another 20 institutes to show cause why their permits should not be withdrawn for non-compliance with rules and regulations.
“The message that has been given is we are not going to tolerate any compromise on quality,” DGS Amitabh Kumar told Business Line.
“About 20 institutes have been blacklisted out of which 14 have been closed down; the rest have to reply to the show-cause notices,” he said.
“These were the institutes which we wanted to clamp down upon when we want to have a system which produces best quality students so that we do not have a parallel system which is producing seafarers without any training. It is very much in line with our thinking of improving the quality of our maritime cadets,” Kumar stated.
The aim is to tap into a potential shortage of officers of some 92,000 by 2020 and 147,500 by 2025, as predicted by the ‘Manpower Report 2015’, published by the Baltic and International Maritime Council (BIMCO) and the International Chamber of Shipping (ICS). BIMCO is the world’s largest shipping body.
India currently has 155 training institutes, most of which are concentrated in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal.
“So far as the numbers are concerned, the institutes are operating at 26% capacity. So, the capacity is immense even if we weed out third quality institutes, there would be enough capacity in the system to increase our numbers; those should grow, so should quality”, Kumar stated.
At the end of 2018, India has 208,799 seafarers employed on Indian and foreign-flagged ships, accounting for about 10% of the global seafarers and is ranked the third-largest supplier of the crew to the worldwide shipping industry.
Of this, 181,435 are employed on foreign-flagged ships (72,327 officers and 109,108 ratings or general-purpose staff) while 27,364 are employed on Indian flagged ships (12,958 officers and 14,406 ratings).
“When we privatised maritime training, the entire focus was on increasing numbers. So, more and more institutes were opened, but enough regulations were not put in place to monitor the functioning of these institutes. Ultimately, maritime training has to comply with the STCW Convention,” Kumar said.
The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watchkeeping for Seafarers (STCW), 1978 sets minimum qualification standards for masters, officers and watch personnel on seagoing merchant ships.
“During the last three years, we have invested a lot in e-governance, especially e-governance related to training. Now, that e-governance data is complete, and that data is throwing up many anomalies in the functioning of these institutes,” he stated.
Many discrepancies were detected in the day-to-day functioning of the institutes due to the on-line system, says Kumar.
“So, you can see show-cause notices have been issued to institutes where, say, 900 seats were approved in a year, and they ended up enrolling 1600, and the cadets were trained without any infrastructure, without any teachers, without any courses. Then, the quality of training they have imparted becomes sub-standard,” he stated.
“We saw students were issued certificates without conducting classes, where the candidates have not been in the country. These have been happening earlier also, but because of the systems that we have now put in place, it has become easy for us to detect,” Kumar added.