Mangaluru: Connectivity is my concern - NMPT chairman A V Ramana


Hemacharya

Pics: Dayanand Kukkaje

Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru

Mangaluru, Oct 10: Having met many top executives in the shipping industry during my professional career in the Middle East and in particular 10 years as a Ship Surveyor cum Quality Systems Auditor (QSA), I have observed that most of them are very rigid, non-cooperative and head strong. But to my surprise, I found A V Ramana, chairman of NMPT, a different person in many ways. He was affable, amenable to others’ point of view and very practical towards his approach as to ‘where we stand today’ as far as tourism is concerned, and ‘where we should go’ within the next 5 to 10 years.

I also found him to be very passionate and positive about the future of shipping industry in India, not just in the arena of cruise tourism but also cargo shipping, oil tankers and break bulk vessels that he is handling currently in bigger volumes at the NMPT. Without doubt, both shipping and tourism play a greater role in a country’s economy towards its financial health and prosperity.

I set the tone to our conversation on a sunny Tuesday forenoon, by asking him whether he is proud of the fact that within the state of Karnataka, NMPT is considered to be the gateway to the city and a hub of Cruise Tourism activity.

He agrees with me and says, “Without doubt, this port is indeed the gateway not only to this city but also many cities in the state since it is the only entry point for international tourists to embark and disembark by sea.”

Then he elaborates that Mangaluru Port being one among the five major ports in India is developed to attract cruise ships with dedicated terminals and other infrastructure, through which businesses can gain access to major cities like Bengaluru, Mysuru and others.

“But I wish there was seamless connectivity to all the cities right from the north to the south and towards the east through the Western Ghats,” he says and continues, “unfortunately this is not possible currently during all the months of a year. In particular the monsoon season brings this region to a complete standstill for natural reasons and the only the way forward is by building tunnels across the Western Ghats, something which I had proposed to the government to act upon as quickly possible. If that happens, we will have uninterrupted connectivity to all the cities in the region not just for commercial purposes but for other reasons as well,” he says.

Ramana feels that easy connectivity could boost the road transport tremendously, thereby Cargo business as well as Cruise tourism. Then he says although his role is limited within the port area, NMPT has taken upon certain major initiatives in providing the much needed infrastructure at the tourist destinations under its Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). This is essentially to provide the basic amenities at tourist destinations like Kadri temple, Kadri Park, at Jain Basadi in Moodbidri and elsewhere.

He then deals with the initiatives taken by the NMPT for the convenience of Cruise liners and international tourist. “Within this year you will find a great change in terms of how the tourists will be given a special corridor to exit and entry from the Lounge area towards the city and to get back,” he says.

“We are planning to build separate gates and provide transport facilitates right from the gate. We have proposed taxi hub where private and pre-paid taxis and auto rickshaws will be parked as some adventurous tourists hire them to explore the city on their own.”

This will be in addition to the services of tourist buses being used by tourists landing at Berth No 4 of the port. (Normally hired by the tour operators).

Sharing his experience as head of Cochin Port where such facilities were a success, he says the proposed exclusive gate and dedicated road for tourists will be in place by the year 2020-21.

While expressing his concern about the absence of trained tour guides in the region (at the moment the tour operators are sourcing college students and selected professionals), he said, the solution for the time being would be to make available ‘recorded audio CDs in different languages that the tourists are familiar with. Meanwhile, some tourist guides can be trained by the Tourism Department on the rich heritage and culture of each tourist spot so that the required amount of information could be divulged to them.

He informed that he has plans to call a meeting of all the heads of department within the NMPT to get into minute details of challenges faced by them at present and how they can be tackled. “I would like to streamline the process, by defining a step by step approach so that visit of each tourist is made special and memorable.”

While he admitted that he did not get an opportunity to meet the minister for Tourism, C T Ravi during the latter’s visit to the city, he appreciated a few plans mooted by the minister. “I support his plan to have a dedicated website on the lines of Wikipedia wherein all comprehensive information on all villages in the state will be made available. Digitalisation of information is the need of the day,” he said. We need to document the information with regards to the history, culture, folk art and other aspects of each village in this region. This is possible by engaging few teams at the gram panchayat, taluk and districts levels.

When we appreciated his proposal to introduce helicopter service for the tourists to go around, he said although he had proposed this plan in January 2019 to the local government and municipality, he will now write to the Chief Secretary in detail. If this happens, tourists can visit faraway places like Kukke Subrahmanya, Mookambika Temple, Sringeri Sharada Peetam, Bekal Fort and the Thousand Pillar Basadi in Moodbidri and save a lot time and avoid not so attractive road infrastructure. This may also help the Tourism department. to add more destinations. He said he had mooted this plan at Cochin Port which was a success.

He also reciprocated the concerns of the tour operators that the region must offer more tourist destinations, easy access, basic amenities and at least a few star hotels on the beach so that the tourists will have a pleasant overnight stay.

According to him, as per confirmation received to date, the port is expecting 26 cruise vessels in the season 2019 – 20, the first being on November 4. On that day, the port will deploy extra security personnel to facilitate easy movement of pre-paid taxis and buses from the Mallya Gate. The truck traffic on that day will be diverted to other gates of the port.

He further said, “Each vessel will have 2,500 passengers on an average. Then he explained this region can benefit financially by earning enhanced revenue as each tourist spends a considerable amount on basic needs besides buying certain artefacts of their choice. “Even if one passenger spends a mere 100 dollar a visit, the region will gain an additional average revenue of 5 million US dollars,” he pointed out.

On our question whether NMPT has a 'Customer feedback' procedure in place and whether it is useful in identifying the problems encountered by the tourist and also to plan out new facilities for them, he said although they have a ‘customer feedback’ process in place, due to time constraints, they are not in a position to use it effectively. “The ship crew is in such a hurry they just look into how fast to get out of the port and reach the next destination before sunset,” he said. “Even it’s difficult to get reasonable feedback from the Ship Captain as they merely sign off the ‘feedback form’ mechanically.

When we suggested why not feedback form cannot be a part of their website so that international tourists who have already visited the city can document their best and worst experience, he said people have the tendency to point out the irrelevant issues and spread negativity. “However, our sincere efforts are on to understand the needs to develop the place and amenities and you will see a great change within soon,” he assured us. He also invited us to undertake a walk way through the places such as bays, corniche, cruise terminal, tourist lounge and so on during our next visit.

When we congratulated him for receiving awards for two consecutive years among 12 major ports in India for the beautification of the entire area by setting up of gardens he said, there will be enhanced efforts in this direction in the future too.

He then explained the special campaign by NMPT, called ‘Swacchta Pakhwada’ which was held between September 16 and October 2 to commemorate the 150th Birth Anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi. He said a slew of programs ranging from ‘Swacchta Abhyan” within the Port premises, market areas (APMC Baikampady), Tannirbavi Beach and Menakaliya village, to activities for creating better awareness among school children, street hawkers, Port employees and villagers of displaced community, were undertaken. Street plays were organized both within and outside the Port premises, to spread the message of banning the use of single use plastics. Elocution and painting competitions were held for children from the KV No.1 and NMPT School and well received by the audience. A medical camp was also organized on this occasion. The Port is in the process of procuring Jute bags for distribution among the colony dwellers, to stop the use of single use plastic bags in the colony market area.

Chairman N V Ramana then concluded by saying, “NMPT will remain in the forefront of Swacchta campaign following the support we received to our ‘Swacchta Pakhwada’ programme.

As per his promise the walkathon and beach cleaning campaign held to culminate ‘Swacchta Pakhwada’ on October 2 was a great success as almost all staff of the port including the top officers taking part in the campaign. NMPT has plans to undertake Swacchta Abhiyan every fortnight to sustain the momentum of the movement towards Swacch Bharat Abhiyan.

(Hemacharya is editor-in-chief of Daijiworld magazine)

  

Comment on this article

  • Mangalorean, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    The chairman of NMPT should know that the tourists are not interested in spending money. Majority of them are budgeted tourists and it is very difficult to buy anything in Mangalore, the tourists does not get any replica of Mangalore like magnets, show pieces of the city. The animals in the port should be removed they can be dangerous to the tourists.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Mohit, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    Keep all the Kerala labour union trouble makers out of DK. NMPT should be made number one port in DK and a vital source of income to DK. All troubles are caused by the labour union with mafia of Kerala based groups. Throw them out.

    DisAgree Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • Pooja S, Panambur Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    it is wonderful sir what you say, but we also heard your port is full of coal dust. was it true some passenger ships were coming to your port and were cancelled because of black dust of coal settling on ships. you still have coal business loading and unloading in full swing. so why passenger ships are not given priority? cancellation of these ships means loss of business to your port and port agents and tour agents who conduct tours with buses etc. so why you are not talking about that and taking care of that problem, before talking about other issues.
    sir you can do it, but NMPT is not doing it ? Promoting Tourism brings money to our city. So sir you will have to look at this problem and solve it first.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse

  • Ronald D, Udupi

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    Good interaction by Hemacharya with very apt point of views and suggestions. We need such journalists with ample knowledge on the subject. Congratulations to both AV Ramana and Hemacharya. This port will certainly gain prominence if NH66 is kept organised and clean, disciplines truck movement and parking, regular public transport. Most important is urgent repair of NH66 from Surathkal to Kuloor after paying heavy toll. There will be heavy maintenance on vehicles due to existing bad roads....these roads are just one or two year old.

    DisAgree [1] Agree [2] Reply Report Abuse

  • MELWYN, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    As far as environment issues’s part is very poor. As per your report only cleaning of beach is detailed. Kindly refer the charcoal unloading and loading yards, it’s fully dust yard. The charcoal dust from the belt conveyor is flying off and deposits to the nearby town Kulur. No action is taken by them for Air Pollution.
    Kindly take a survey on adjacent side of NH 66 and the service road from KIOCL to Baikampady , How trucks are parked, Were are the Toilets , wash rooms and canteen facility to the truck drivers ?
    They use the jungle garden beside the port compound for the use of toilets. Then how we say that this is Swatch Bharath.
    For this concern all the three major industries, MCF; KIOCL and NMPT has not taken any steps for the parking of trucks and washroom facility to drivers under Swatch Bharath Issue , and not maintained cleanliness over both sides of NH66 or outside their compound wall. A report over this is important.

    DisAgree Agree [6] Reply Report Abuse

  • Antony, Mangalore

    Thu, Oct 10 2019

    Also he has to be held responsible for the disaster that had happened with the barge which sank at the mouth of the port and also to the spillage that may happen of the 50tons of black furnace oil that the barge is holding.

    DisAgree Agree Reply Report Abuse


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