CMMI and IMEI felicitate Sanjay Bhatia on his retirement

Company of Master Mariners of India (CMMI) and Institute of Marine Engineers of India (IMEI) felicitated Mumbai Port Chairman, Mr. Sanjay Bhatia on his successful and eventful stint at the port for the past four years. The function on his superannuation, held online, was attended by the stalwarts from the Maritime and Logistics industry, besides his friends and batch mates from the Directorate of Marine Engineering Training (DMET).

Mr. Bhatia, expressing his thanks to the organizers and all those who had come together to attend the ceremony said, “My 35 years of service at the Mumbai Port Trust and Indian Ports Association have been an exhilarating experience. I have made friends everywhere. I have had teams that have worked with me. I have had bosses that have supported me. It has been because of my friends, my team members and my bosses that my 35 years have been very successful and fruitful experience.”

He added that the question of the course to be adopted for the future was an enigma. Meditation and spirituality seemed as an enticing path, he averred.

Reminiscing about his career, he said “When I joined Mumbai Port Trust I did not know anything about Ports or Shipping. It was my team members, which included Gautam Dey, Rajeev Kumar, Rathod, Capt. Karkare, Capt Kohli, AK Bose, among others, who assisted me. When I joined, the port seemed to be on its last legs but with the help of my team, which came up with some bright ideas, we managed to turn the tide. We studied all major ports abroad, such as in Barcelona and Miami, and we realised that we needed to go in to Cruise business. So we shifted direction, even while maintaining the existing cargo profile. We went towards cruises water transport and land uses. There was – and is – a tremendous support for the idea both from the government of Maharashtra and from government of India. As such the vision will, one day, certainly materialize. The result is that today we are among 3rd and 4th of the major ports.”

Speaking about his time at Kandla, he stated that this stint which was expected to last about a fortnight went on for a year. “It was a great learning experience,” he stated.

He disclosed, “At IPA we had something called as manthan, which we held every 2 months. At these manthans we used to brainstorm about problems and their possible solutions. A part of that was the development of Vision 2030. We met stakeholders to understand the issues. When I met the minister recently I told him that my team has come up with three ideas which needed to be taken forward. One of them was cruise business. The other is the computerization and the National Logistics Portal, (which will change all exchange of information between all the stakeholders from PCS to NLP) and the third is the new Port Land Policy and the New Township Policy.”

Captain B K Jha, Master of CMMI spoke about how Mumbai Port Trust, under the leadership of Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, has transformed to become a landmark port. Capt Jha appreciated the progress, vision of Mr. Bhatia.

Mr. Uday Purohit, President of Institute of Marine Engineers (IMEI), speaking about how Mr Bhatia had digitalized the sales tax department, said that it had made the whole procedure smoother and simpler than it was earlier.

Mr. Gautum Dey, Business Development head, Mumbai Port Trust, disclosed that Mr. Bhatia was responsible for many progressive developments in the industry even before he became Chairman of the Mumbai Port. He said it was because of Mr. Bhatia that Costa Ship was home ported in Mumbai and the time limit was removed. He recited the mammoth task of signing off crew during the Covid19 at Mumbai Port Trust. He complimented Bhatia for removing  the hierarchy concept and the liberty the staff had to communicate with the chairman with their ideas and problems. During Crew change Mr Bhatia had transformed an old Garage of the Port, which could house around 60 cars, into a usable premise. “It is like being true to the phrase ‘Businesses are grown from the garage’”, he adlibbed.

He added that the largest cruise terminal costing about Rs. 500 crore, was being constructed at the Mumbai Port Trust because of Mr. Bhatia. He said that Mr. Bhatia understood the difficulty of the seafarers returning to India during the Covid 19 time. So, to avoid infections at hotels he set up Cruise ship in such a way that passengers could quarantine there.

Ms. H K Joshi, Chairperson & Managing Director, The Shipping Corporation of India spoke about her association with Mr. Bhatia, which had started during the Maritime India Summit, held in April 2016. She had a very brief encounter with him during the Vision 2030. She explained how he was due for retirement and still took a lot of meetings for Vision 2030. She also praised him for personally visiting the Mumbai Port Trust Hospital. “Though he is at a very sensitive age he put himself at risk but went ahead and motivated the staff and the doctors so that it becomes easier for everyone to deal with the situation,” she said.

Mr. Sanjay Sethi, Chairman Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Mumbai Port Trust, who has had the longest association with Mr. Sanjay Bhatia, praised him for his energy and dedication even during the last day of his service before his retirement where he was seen making a presentation.

Mr. Amitabh Kumar, Director General of Shipping, described Mr. Bhatia as a man with passion and compassion. Speaking about his contribution to the maritime fraternity he said that India was on the cruise ship map of the world due to him. “As chairman of IPA he has made tremendous efforts to keep the Port community network in place. He is the man who bridged the gap between the ports side and the shipping side. The SOP that was virtually followed by all the countries was a combined effort of the shipping and the port sector. The SOP was run through by Mr. Bhatia. Before his retirement he approved the construction of the new Jahaj Bhawan building. This itself speaks volumes for Mr. Bhatia,” he concluded.

Capt. M.P. Bhasin, Secretary General, CMMI, extending his best wishes to Mr. Bhatia, highlighted a few positions that Mr. Bhatia had held in the last few years such as:

* Ex Chairman of Mumbai Port Trust

* Secretary in the Government of India

* Chairman Indian Port Association

* Vice Chairman And Managing Director of CIDCO

* Commissioner Sales Tax

* Chairman of State Electricity Board.


He also highlighted some of the port developmental works accomplished by Mr.Bhatia such as:

* Development of road tax terminal.

* Development of waterfront as sea transport and sea tourism hub

* Development of domestic cruise terminal and international cruise terminal

* Development of 300 yard Marina at Mumbai.


Capt Vivek Bhandarkar, CEO, Bhandarkar Publications, said “Mr. Sanjay Bhatia is recipient of so many awards and accolades that it is virtually impossible to cover it in this small time frame of webinar. He is recipient of Traveller Today’s award for contribution to the development of Cruise Tourism in India; E-Governance Award by Computer Society of India and Bloomberg Award for Computerization in Sales Tax Department of Govt. of Maharashtra among others.”

He stated, “Under the Chairmanship of Mr. Bhatia Mumbai Port has launched new initiative of development of Sea-transport services and Sea- tourism services on the Eastern Waterfront of Mumbai. With development of these services Mumbai is expected to become the Sea-transport & Sea tourism capital of the country.”

He added several services have been either started or are planned to be launched in this direction. These include among others Development of International & Domestic Cruise Services from Mumbai Port; Renowned Cruise Lines Costa has started home porting from Mumbai Port; Indian Ship Angriya has started Cruise Operations from Mumbai to Goa. Jalesh Cruises, an Indian Company, has started International & Domestic Cruise Operations from Mumbai Port through its 2000 passenger Cruise Ship Karnika; Many other major Cruise lines like Royal Carribean, Norwegian Cruises, Celebrity Cruises, etc. have also started calling on Mumbai Port. Mr. Bhatia was instrumental in Conceptualising the ambitious ‘High Tech City’ along the Eastern Water Front of Mumbai, spread over on an area of 253 Ha. as a part of overall Master Port plan. The plan envisages Development of Theme Central Garden at Sea front of Haji Bunder/Hay Bunder of around 350 Acres with reclamation, Mr. Bhandarkar disclosed.

Mr. Vijendra Jain president IMEI, Mumbai concluded the function with a vote of thanks

Capt Kaustubh Pradhan deputy master of CMMI was the moderator of the webinar.

During the online function a video prepared by Mr. Bhatia’s  daughter, highlighting the highpoints of his tenure as chairman of MbPT was telecast.

All those who attended the webinar urged and wished Sanjay Bhatia to continue and guide of Maritime Industry.

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