Friday, April 16, 2010

Praveen Agarwal confirms MPT proposal for Goa as 'rest and recreation'

Marmagoa Port Trust (MPT) Chairman in a letter e-mailed to me today has confirmed MPT proposal to organise facilities for 'rest and recreation' facilities at the Port in Vasco, Goa. He has also sent attachments of plant for MPT worked in collaboration with Italian company M/s. Costa Crociere.

The documents are reproduced below for public information:

Dear Mr. Rodrigues,

At the outset let me thank you for the keen interest shown by you in the projects of MPT. Your feedback will be invaluable in helping us to decide the correct course of action.

May I point out that mention of using the facilities at MPT for hosting vessels of foreign navies, visiting ports in India for Rest and Recreation, is just a small part of the services proposed to be offered at MPT for promotion of cruise shipping.

You may like to peruse our recent letter to Mr. Gianni Onorato of Costa Cruises, Italy. This will perhaps clarify your doubts and clear the apprehensions, if any.

Looking forward for your continued interest and cooperation in implementing MPT projects.

Yours Sincerely,

(Praveen Agarwal)


Mormugao Port Trust

CPT(59)/2010/ 12.4.2010

Dear Mr. Gianni Onorato,

Sub: Promotion of Cruise Shipping at

Mormugao Port, Goa

Ref: Possibilities of M/s Costa Home Porting a

Cruise Ship

In continuation of my email of 9.4.2010, I would like to inform that the issues raised by you have received our due consideration. We at MPT are of the view that there is a distinct possibility of ‘Mormugao Port Trust’ and ‘Costa’ working out an arrangement for home porting of a cruise vessel in Mormugao-Harbour, Goa.

2. To begin with, I must inform that we have already started construction of two non-cargo berths in our Breakwater area. The first is a Finger Jetty kind of structure, on the Mole of the Breakwater. This finger jetty will be 270 mtrs. long and 22 mtrs. wide. Water depths at the Jetty are planned to be (-) 10 mtrs. below CD to begin with, and can be increased to (-) 12.5, if required. This berth will be capable of berthing ships throughout the year, on both the northern and southern sides of the quay, though the northern side may not be a very stable position during 3 months of the monsoon from June to August, every year. The southern side of the Berth will be absolutely safe throughout the year, though there may be some restrictions in berthing and un-berthing, due to constraints of space.

3. Another berth is being constructed on and along the existing Breakwater itself. This berth, on the leeward side of the Breakwater, i.e. in the mooring basin itself, will be 400 mtrs. long and 28 mtrs. wide. The water depth is planned to be (-) 10 mtrs., but can as well be (-) 12.5 mtrs. for at least 300 mtrs. of this berth on the northern side. A passage of 8 mtrs. width on the western side of this berth will be used as a road for serving the berth on the Mole described above. Once again, due to constraints of space, the berthing and unberthing operations may be a little slow, but they are surely possible. This berth will be absolutely safe and protected throughout the year. Approximately, 100 – 120 mtrs. on the southern part of this 400 mtrs. long berth, will be made available to the Indian Coast Guard for home porting their service vessels on a dedicated basis.

4. The entire Breakwater area of Mormugao Harbour at Goa will be serviced by the 4-Lane National Highway, which will connect to the road network of the State of Goa and the rest of the country. The non-cargo / Cruise ship facility described above will be hardly 12-15 minutes drive from the civilian / naval airport, which is used by the international and domestic flights, including charter flights. The entire Breakwater area is at the entrance of Mormugao Harbour and right next to the Navigation Channel of the Port having water depths of (-) 14.1 mtrs. below CD, throughout the year. The Breakwater area is far away from the iron ore and coal stacks. There may be some issues concerning noise, as a ship repair unit is located in the same area.

5. The above facility, i.e. construction of the berths, completion of the 4-Lane road connectivity, etc. , will be fully functional by March 2012.

6. To begin with, the Mormugao Port has embarked upon the creation of the above facility for receiving and serving international cruise ships, as well as possibly home porting of at least one cruise ship. The breakwater area could also be suitable for positioning a floating hotel in protected waters.

7. Incidentally, Mormugao Port also has 3 Mooring Dolphins located right next to the Navigational Channel, in a completely sheltered water area. These provide 2 safe ship positions for cargo operations. The Mooring Dolphins can also be used for berthing merchant and cruise ships / naval ships safely throughout the year. The distance between 2 Mooring Dolphins is 330 mtrs., and water depths are (-) 14.1 mtrs. below CD. The port is adding 3 more Moorings Dolphins, 4, 5 and 6, in line with the existing 3 MDs. 3 new ship positions will therefore be created. For providing the necessary tranquillity and safe berthing position, the port shall be constructing an up-topping breakwater west of MD 6, soon after the MD is completed. These MDs can also be comfortably used for berthing cruise ships, non-cargo / naval ships, as well as floating hotels. The ships moored at the MDs would be at a distance of about 400- 500 mtrs. from the Breakwater area / Berth on the Mole. These MDs positions can be serviced by ferryboats / launches, etc.

8. With time, Mormugao Port hopes to have a proper cruise terminal, with cruise berths and a Marina at a location known as ‘Vasco Bay’. However, that could take anything from 4 to 5 years from now.

9. From your mail of 3.3.2010, it appears that some adjustments in port tariffs are required for taking into account the declining cruise selling prices, and helping the survival of the business. Your wish list is as follows:

Volume discounts, long term agreements, rebates on passengers taxes and port dues, more efficient port services suppliers, better performance on environmental and fresh water plants, less obsolete rules on compulsory tugs. These are just few examples of the actions we are looking for.

9.1 A preliminary reading of the above gives the impression that Mormugao Port will be able to work out some kind of a favourable tariff regime which may suit your requirements, and which may off-set, to some extent, the alleged onerous burden of customs duties and taxes. I would therefore suggest that we discuss your issues a little more in detail, to see if we can arrive at some good understanding, which will enable home porting of Costa Ships at Mormugao – Harbour.

10. Incidentally, may I also point out that Goa is the only state in India, which has relaxed its ‘Prohibition on Gambling Act’, which is titled “The Goa, Daman and Diu Public Gambling Act, 1976”. By the “ The Goa Public Gambling (Amendment) Bills , passed in 1996, 1997 and 2008, live gaming is allowed on “Vessels Offshore” . Such gaming is permitted by the State Government of Goa by issuing a licence / authorisation against payment of the prescribed fees. The licence / authorisation is valid for a certain period of time and allows offshore vessels to carry out the gaming activity. Essentially, this means that other than at the berth itself, gaming activities can be carried out anywhere on a vessel parked in the water area, if a licence has been obtained from the State Govt. Of course, if such activity is to be carried out within the notified limits of Mormugao Port Trust, permission will have to be obtained from the ‘Board of Trustees’ of the Port , as well as the ‘Ministry of Shipping’, Government of India, in addition to the licence from the State Government.

11. Further clarifications about the specific water areas in which gaming activities can be carried out by international cruise liners will have to be sought from the Government of Goa.

12. Nevertheless, the point remains that if a cruise vessel were to home port at MPT,Goa or even if it were to transit to and fro from any international port , there would be no fear of violation of the public gambling laws, or harassment of any kind, so long as the necessary license has been obtained from the Govt. of Goa. Thus, Costa could perhaps organise “Cruises to Nowhere”, i.e. when the cruise ship leaves Mormugao Port and goes out to the open seas with or without touching an international sea port other than in India, and comes back, then the gambling laws will not be a problem.

13. In my understanding, exciting possibilities exist, and with the construction of the proposed infrastructure, Mormugao Harbour could be considered as a good port for having regular cruise operations.

14. I know that there is still lack of clarity on many issues, and many creases need to be ironed out. One important area would be a reasonable agreement on tariffs between Costa and MPT. These issues are for us to take forward.

15. I await further response, if any from you side.

With Best Wishes,

Yours sincerely,


(Praveen Agarwal)

Mr. Gianni Onorato,


M/s. Costa Crociere S.p.A,

Via XII Ottobre 2,

16121 Genova, Italy.

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