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India holds first-ever Regional Maritime Safety Conference with ASEAN

Mumbai, Feb 19 (UNI) The two-day Regional Maritime Safety Conference organized by the National Maritime Foundation(NMF),in coordination with Ministry of Shipping and Ministry of External Affairs, kicked off here on Tuesday.
Organized by India for the first time,the inaugural edition will deliberate on issues related to assuring maritime safety in the India-ASEAN(Association of Southeast Asian Nations) sub-region, safeguarding the country's shores and promoting maritime trade.
The conference will address a range of issues that affect regional maritime safety,including transport safety,maritime law,ship building,transportation of hazardous goods,marine oil spill, pollution,and environmental safety.
Addressing the gathering, Ministry of Shipping Additional Secretary Sanjay Bandopadhyay said that with the linking of domestic crude oil prices with prices of international crude,India is witnessing a growth in coastal shipping and inland waterways.
He further said that the number of seafarers grew by 35 per cent in 2018 as compared to 2017 and there has been a growth in the blue economy,which is related to the maritime sector.
The maritime trade is very important for India,which has a coastline nearly 7,500 km long and that the country has been engaging very actively with ASEAN countries in the maritime sector,remarked Mr
Bandopadhyay.
Ministry of External Affairs Joint Secretary (ASEAN) Anurag Bhushan said that India’s relationship with the ASEAN countries has gone a long way from a central partner in 1992 to summit partner.
He further said that the turnaround came in 2014 when the Prime Minister Narendra Modi initiated the 'Act East Policy'.
Mr Bhushan asserted that the partnership has blossomed on the three pillars of polity and security, economy,and sociocultural dimensions.
The high point of the partnership was when India hosted all ten leaders of the ASEAN countries at the 'ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit' in New Delhi on January 25–26 of 2018,stated the Joint
Secretary.
He said that various initiatives have been taken since then to further co-operation in maritime sector,centred largely on the blue economy.
Mr Bhushan expressed hope that the Maritime Safety Conference would be able to formulate recommendations and solutions for India,ASEAN countries and other participating countries to ensure a safer and
cleaner maritime environment.
Former Chief of the Naval Staff (Retd) Admiral and the NMF Chairman R K Dhowan said that the Indian Ocean is the third largest water body of the world and the countries on the rim of the ocean are home
to nearly one-third of humanity.
Noting that maritime trade and transportation has increased,Mr Dhowan claimed that there is a need for greater interaction between various structures in the region such as SAGAR(Security and Growth for All in the Region),Indian Ocean Rim Association,Indian Ocean Naval Symposium,ASEAN, East Asia Summit and Western Pacific Naval Symposium.
Mr Dhowan hoped that the conference will result in formulation of concrete action plans for India–ASEAN cooperation in advancing maritime safety in the region,which has emerged as a centre of
economic and strategic development in the maritime domain.
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