(This was originally posted in Times Of India by Krishnendu Bandyopadhyay)
Transport minister Firhad Hakim visited Shalimar Shipyard on Monday and promised a robust turnaround for the 135-year-old ailing public sector undertaking (PSU), Shalimar Works. The minister met the senior officers of the state-run unit to assess the current situation and ways to improve its operations. Shalimar Works has produced close to 600 vessels so far and had also supplied ships to the Indian Navy in the past. The shipyard was taken over by the Government of West Bengal in 1980.
However, it was established by Turner Morrison in 1885 during the British period. It has been a major ship repairing unit of the east coast and became operational well before the Garden Reach Shipbuilders & Engineers (GRSE) was set up. Hakim said, “We will put all efforts to revive and revitalize the shipyard. For the same, a small dry dock may come up in the same. There is also a possibility of having AC boats that will ply in Hooghly that would be made at Shalimar.”
He also stated that in order to revamp the Shalimar Shipyard, a young IAS officer has been made the chairman of the PSU. The new chairman, Rajanvir Singh Kapur, is also the MD of WBTC. The minister hoped a concerted effort would revive the lost glory of Shalimar, which is a historic organization with a great heritage value and has been doing good work for a long time. He said that maintenance and repair of vessels belonging to the transport department would be done through Shalimar only.
Hakim said that the revival significantly coincides with the World Bank-funded water transport infrastructure augmentation. The project will offer an opportunity for Shalimar to build more vessels. The Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) will also boost Shalimar with maintenance and repairs works as well. The minister held a meeting with transport secretary Rajesh Kumar Sinha and WBTC MD and Shalimar Shipyard chairman Rajanvir Singh Kapur.