Ennarasu Karunesan - Vision for India's Maritime and Ports Industry

Ennarasu Karunesan, a versatile Mechanical Engineer and Postgraduate in Management, is a prominent figure in the maritime and ports sector in India. He has held esteemed Chief Executive-Level positions at ports and terminals across Asia and the Indian subcontinent. Currently serving as an advisor to Indian Ports, he is also the Regional Director to India for the International Association of Ports and Harbours (IAPH). Mr. Karunesan's expertise and strategic vision have contributed to transforming India's ports industry and positioning it on the global map.

We recently caught up with him at the India Ports Conference held in Mumbai on May 11 and 12.

A summary of our conversation with Mr. Karunesan follows:

Collaborating with IAPH for Global Trade:

In an increasingly interconnected world, Ennarasu Karunesan recognizes the importance of international collaboration in the maritime and ports industry. With India poised to become a five trillion-dollar economy and a global manufacturing hub, he emphasizes the need to work closely with IAPH and stakeholders to create value in the supply chain system. By acting as a trade bridge between India and global countries, Mr. Karunesan aims to contribute to the growth of India's EXIM trade and leverage the benefits of globalization.

Focus on Digitalization and Sustainability:

India's ports industry has undergone a significant transformation in recent years. Moving away from labor-intensive operations, the sector has embraced reforms such as Public Private Partnership and digitization. Mr. Karunesan emphasizes the importance of working closely with IAPH to further accelerate digitalization efforts, enhance sustainability practices, foster data collaboration, and explore climate-friendly and renewable energy sources. By aligning with global best practices, Indian ports can raise their standards to meet international benchmarks.

Pioneering Innovative Port Development Projects:

 Ennarasu Karunesan has been actively involved in spearheading ground-breaking port development projects. As part of India's commitment to technology-driven and sustainable ports, he has led initiatives such as the Port Community System (PCS), National Maritime Portal (NMP), and the Maritime Single Window (MSW). These projects aim to streamline port operations, enhance efficiency, and improve sustainability measures. Mr. Karunesan also mentions the upcoming introduction of the Port Endeavour Game, designed to further enhance sustainability measures in Indian ports.

Enhancing Port Competitiveness:

The need to enhance the competitiveness of India's seaport infrastructure is a point for prime focus according to Mr. Karunesan. While India has quantity in terms of port infrastructure, the focus now lies on improving quality. By benchmarking against global standards, evaluating major ports' infrastructure, and rejuvenating them, Mr. Karunesan aims to create 21st-century ports that meet the expectations of global shipping lines. This will contribute to the overall growth of India's EXIM trade and improve the country's position.

Future of Port Infrastructure in India:

Mr.Karunesan envisions a transformative future for port infrastructure in India. To meet the evolving needs of global shipping, India is investing in building mega ports, developing smart ports to improve ease of doing business, reducing logistics costs, and promoting multi-modal shift. Landlord ports, green ports, and world-class infrastructure are key elements of India's roadmap for port development. With a focus on aligning with global trends and accommodating the changing shipping scenario, India is actively developing Mega Ports and Mega Transhipment Hub Ports capable of handling mega-ships with capacities of up to 24,000 TEUs. This forward-thinking approach positions India to cater to larger economies of scale and adapt to the global changing landscape.

Mr. Karunesan commends the establishment of a well-functioning cargo/container ecosystem, spearheaded by ports like Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) and Mundra Port. JNPT has successfully transitioned from a feeder port to a main line port, catering to larger vessels and reaping the benefits of economies of scale. Mundra Port, strategically positioned to serve the NCR region, has emerged as a major player in handling Main Line Container Ports, capable of accommodating 15,000 TEUs container ships. These developments signify India's proactive approach in meeting the demands of larger vessel sizes and aligning with global trends.

Mr. Karunesan's leadership and expertise have been instrumental in contributing to the transformation of India's maritime and ports industry. As the Regional Director to India for IAPH, he aims to bridge the gap between India and the global ports system, bringing in global best practices and fostering collaboration. With a focus on digitalization, sustainability, risk and resilience, data collaboration, and renewable energy sources, Mr. Karunesan envisions a future where India's ports achieve global standards and contribute significantly to the country's EXIM trade. Through innovative projects, strategic partnerships, and infrastructure upgrades, India is poised to create world-class ports capable of catering to the evolving needs of the global shipping industry.

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