THE LIGHT OF ANDAMANS | VOL 36 | ISSUE 03 | 01 NOV 2012
Interview: Jalaj Srivastava,
Principal Secretary, Shipping, Planning and Revenue
MF Samson is a Disaster: Jalaj
Capt Seshasai is learnt to have been repatriated after the corruption charges against him. Will the buck stop at him or are there more people involved?
We are fully aware of many issues during the period of Capt Seshasai, but his repatriation was purely an administrative decision, nothing to do with corruption charges. The Director was not technically competent to take major decisions on procurement. Most of the administrative decisions taken by the Director were also not very sound. The file on corruption charges is with Secretary Vigilance.
Anyway, there is no attempt to protect Capt Seshasai. As far as I know, he is fully trapped. I have learnt that there are more than 4 people whose name features in the charge sheet. We have already shunted some of them out of DSS.
There are many decisions, where Seshasai has taken us for a ride. MF Samsun is a disaster. We were fooled by Capt Seshasai. The contract was given to Shipping Corporation of
. Capt Seshasai co-opted and
went and made a very bad selection. The whole selection process was flawed. It
was purely a "swayamvar." The
L1 ship was rejected on whimsical reasons. There was no comparative statement.
Moreover, we were time and again told by Capt Seshasai that it's a 600-pax
ship, whereas, I had personally asked Secretary to count and found out that it
can only accommodate 344 and odd passengers. We are paying about Rs 9 lakh for
a 40-year old ship, which cannot run on its optimum speed. The air-conditioning
shuts down if it's run on designed speed more than 11 knots. We are planning to
immediately send the ship back. India
DSS is the second largest fleet after SCI. But we don't possess Document of Compliance. There are so many issues with the Regulatory bodies. Why is DSS not upgraded into Shipping Corporation? Why Shipping is missing from the IDA agenda?
During the recent visit of Minister of Shipping, all these issues came up for discussion. He has assured that for the liaison issues with SCI, DG Shipping, MMD and IRS, there will be a high-powered committee. It will be headed with Jt Secretary Shipping and from our side; person incharge of Shipping will attend the meetings. The first meeting of the Committee was held on 16 Oct, in which Secretary, Shipping too attended in which three issues were broadly decided - strengthening of port management and infrastructure, the Ministry of Shipping will ensure that all Govt institutions like IRS, MMD, DG Shipping and SCI will upgrade their facilities here. Two Chief Engineer-level persons from SCI will be posted here. We don't have to send all papers to Kolkata to IRS as they will have full-fledged office here itself.
As majority of issues have been already sorted, it does not feature in the agenda of Standing Committee of IDA. On the morning of 17 Oct, Secretary, Planning Commission also took a meeting in which many other issues related with Shipping came up for discussion. We hope that the high-powered committee is the answer to many of our problems.
Moreover, the Standing Committee Meeting of IDA is held only once a year, and the IDA meeting in two years. What we should do is most of the issues we are fighting should be taken up in the monitoring committee under Planning Commission, which meets more frequently.
Why the Admn does not consult anybody before the agenda for IDA is finalized?
You are right. There should have been an all party meeting, PRIs and other civil society organizations before the IDA agenda is taken to Planning Commission. Even public spirited citizens can give their viewpoint. But we have seen that the last IDA meeting began and ended with a fiasco. In the agenda we had listed outstanding issues, tourism policy, Jarawa policy and suggestions of the MP. But, time did not permit to address all issues.
Why issues like waiving off of Rapid EIA for bathrooms, changing rooms and wayside amenities feature in IDA meetings? Is it not frivolous? Why can't such issues be sorted out at local level?
It's not a frivolous matter. The Dept of Environment and
Forest has been creating
hurdles at every stage. The Ministry of
Environment and Forests have taken a stand that even such minor issues should
go to their standing committee. Since we have formed ANCZMA, all such issues
should be sorted out at Chief Secretary Level. For instance, the Lieutenant
Governor had sent a communication regarding a clearance to MoEF almost a year
ago. But, MoEF denies saying that they have not received the letter. Even
Shashi Kumar, PCCF said that he had sent it eleven months ago. Now, when such
discussions come up at IDA meeting, it shows the apathy of MoEF.
What is the status of quarry auctioning? Do you think auction can rationalize the price of end-products?
In the last week a lot has happened. The auction notice for quarry sites is already out. The royalty has been revised from Rs 1.77 per cbm to Rs 5 per cbm. If we had increased it further, it would have become a reason to hike the price of end-product. It is the prerogative of the quarry owners; however, he cannot hike the price which is beyond the reach of common people. We need to look into this.