Coming soon, a new portal to curb corruption and bring transparency in the shipping industry
Riding on the Digital India wave, the directorate general of shipping is contemplating to unveil a dedicated shipping portal to bring transparency, curb corruption by unscrupulous agents involved in maritime industry and speed up the process of granting approvals.
The DG shipping says that it is working tirelessly to exploit information and communication technology and simplify complicated processes of granting approvals to maritime industry stakeholders. Under this e-governance project, more than one crore records related to the DG Shipping will also be digitised.
“The upcoming shipping portal will be a game-changer and will bring transparency, accuracy and efficiency in the shipping/maritime sector,” says Mansukh Mandaviya, union minister of state for road transport and highways, shipping, chemicals and fertilizers. The portal will be a flag-bearer for Digital India, he adds.
Earlier there were 10-12 portals of DG shipping pertaining to various issues and the applicants had to visit all of these to get mandatory clearances but now there will be a single portal for all necessary approvals and processes, says an official. The beta version of the portal has already been rolled out and the preliminary results are satisfactory, adds the official. The objective of the whole IT initiative is to become a highly efficient, responsible and progressive maritime administration for overall growth of maritime industry.
“We wanted to bring all stakeholders of shipping industry like students, maritime institutes, seafarer, medical experts, agents and shipping companies, and examination boards to one platform,” the official says.
Describing the initiative as “All on board, on line”, Malini V Shankar, director general of shipping, says, “The proactive policy will enhance ease of doing business and promote the development of shipping and allied industries.”
The key components of the new web portal would be collaboration (among ships, seafarers and employees), enterprise resource planning, business process automation, document management system, digitisation, mobile app, management information system and, reports and integration of DG shipping applications.
“Reform, perform and transform has been the mantra of the Modi government. For this, the government has adopted technological intervention under the Digital India initiative. When we started, we decided to develop such an IT platform for shipping industries, which may bring all stakeholders and all processes on a common platform,” Mandaviya says.
Shipping companies can avail online services like plan approval, tonnage measurement, ship registration, certificate of registry, registration of sailing vessel, amendments to registry, declaration of ownership, transfer of port of registry, registration and discharge of mortgage, registration of fishing vessel, charter permission and licences and technical clearance from the new portal.
The directorate also aims to become a completely paperless entity through e-governance solutions and have electronic record management system.
The new portal will enable collaboration among maritime institutes, examination boards, shipping companies, seafarers, employer, office of DG Shipping, insurance companies, doctors, and many other stakeholders to achieve common goals.
The seafarer related processes and available services to be offered by the DG shipping include, tab-based exam and e-learning, exit exams, creation of seafarer profile (new user), continuous discharge certificate (CDC), application for new CDC, renewal of CDC, replacement of CDC, duplication of CDC, discontinuation of CDC, examinations, online eligibility assessment, examination application (including eligibility verification), review of results, question paper setting, conduct of written/oral examination and payment of examiners.
The DG shipping official says that Mansukh Mandaviya recently convened a meeting with concerned stakeholders of the shipping industry to address multiple problems faced by them. The minister was informed by the stakeholders that fake maritime institutes and fake agents have mushroomed, especially in Mumbai, because of which many students could not appear in exams or seafarer may stuck in abroad.
The shipping directorate has been urged to weed out fake maritime institutes and fake agents in the quickest possible time for the benefit of lakhs of students. If a seafarer wants to get into a particular ship then he needs mandatory clearance from the agency. There were multiple agents involved and institutes were also not trustworthy. After hearing these problems, shipping minister Mansukh Mandaviya had asked the DG shipping to develop a portal to put all the processes of approvals in detail.
All the processes have been put on the portal, which is undergoing trials, the official says. As an instance, if a seafarer wants his medical examination done, he should consult only an empaneled doctor and the doctor will fill all the details of the candidate on the portal and there will be no paper work. Earlier, when this was a manual process, many forged cases surfaced after some seafarers had produced fake medical certificates, he explains. The online process would stop forgery.
The DG shipping has also fixed a time limit for the agents to process application of seafarers, failing which the file will be moved to another agent and the seafarer will be informed about the changes. This will remove corrupt practices and save time.
The list of clearance processes needed for a ship will be made available on the portal. Currently, shipping companies have to run from pillar to post to get multiple clearances but the new portal would work like a single window system. At present, a shipping company usually gets a clearance in 20-30 days for taking out a ship to the sea but through the new portal it would get necessary approvals within a week. In fact, efforts are being made to give such approvals to applicants within one or two days in near future.
It is believed that this will be first time in India that the examiners and candidates appearing in exams will not be able to see each other. Interestingly, both the concerned stakeholders will be in different cities and anonymity will be maintained through computer randomisation. The DG shipping official says this is the best example of Digital India. “We always wanted this type of service and if anybody talks about Digital India, people should give example of DG shipping for optimally exploiting technology,” he adds.