My colleague in the Government of India and friend Mr. Venugopal,
Mr. Babu, Minister of Fisheries, Ports and Excise, Government of Kerala,
Mr. Sudhakaran, MLA,
District Panchayat President,
Mrs. Merci Dayana Masido, Municipal Chairperson,
Mrs. Sobha Koshy, CPMG Kerala,
Captain Surej, Director General of Lighthouses & Lightships,
Officials from the Ministries of Communication and IT and Shipping,
Firstly, it’s a great pleasure to be in Alappuzha and in one of my favourite states Kerala. I always look forward to visiting your state and I’m very happy that this program is jointly organized by both my ministries. I’m also grateful to Mr. Venugopal for insisting that I visit his constituency as soon as possible. He always raises important issues on behalf of the people of Alappuzha in Parliament, the UPA Government and our party.
I’m very honored to release a Commemorative Postage Stamp on the completion of 150 years of Alleppey and Mahabalipuram Lighthouses. I would like to thank all those who have been part of Alleppey Lighthouse’s rich history and would particularly like to congratulate the people of Alappuzha.
I want to appreciate the efforts of the DG, Lighthouses and Lightships and his team for doing an outstanding job of maintaining 183 Lighthouses, 64 Radar Beacons, 23 DGPS Stations and 25 Deep-sea Navigation and Wreck Marking Buoys across the Indian coastline, including the Andaman and Nicobar and Lakshadweep Islands.
In the past, lighthouses were one of the only navigational aids available to sailors. Today, in spite of the availability of modern technologies, lighthouses are still used by sailors around the world and continue to be considered the most reliable of navigational aids. Globally, lighthouses are also major landmarks and tourist destinations, and they lend a distinct identity to the places where they are located. Alleppey Lighthouse is one such landmark, and through the release of today’s Postal Stamp, I hope that future generations across India will learn of its beautiful history and heritage. I’m happy that the Department of Posts is commemorating Alleppey Lighthouse’s 150th year, and I trust that today’s event is as much a matter of pride for all the citizens of Alappuzha and Kerala as it is for all of us in the Ministries of Communication and IT and Shipping.
Through our lighthouses, the Ministry of Shipping has established a National Automatic Identification System Network along India’s coastline. This is used for coastal surveillance to track vessels fitted with transponders up to a distance of 50km. We are carrying out a pilot project by installing transponders in smaller vessels that can be used by fishermen for their safety. We are also developing a Tourism Policy for our lighthouses and have identified over two dozen lighthouses around India that will be taken up in Phase 1.
Kerala is one of India’s most important maritime states. The Ministry of Shipping is working with the Government of Kerala to better utilize its coastline and inland waterways for various employment generating activities, including shipping and port development. I’m grateful to Kerala’s Chief Minister Mr. Oomen Chandy, who has been instrumental in leading many initiatives for Kerala’s maritime development. One of my ministry’s five National Waterways is also in Kerala and will be used for transporting cargo. Our aim is to divert traffic from Kerala’s roads to this National Waterway, which is not only a cheaper mode of transport but will help decongest roads and highways in the state. Tomorrow, I’m also visiting Cochin Port and Cochin Shipyard to review their activities.
Through the Department of Electronics and IT, we are working with the Government of Kerala to encourage electronics manufacturing in the state. The Ministry of Communications and IT recently announced important incentives to attract investments in this area and I hope that the Government of Kerala will work with us to encourage companies to set up electronics manufacturing facilities here. This can provide a lot of employment locally.
Without taking more time, I would once again like to reiterate the Government of India’s commitment to the people of Kerala and I would like to thank you all for being here today on this important occasion. I’m sure that Alleppey Lighthouse will continue to guide mariners to these beautiful shores for many more centuries to come.
All the best.
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