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Govt to spend Rs 70,000 crore on 12 major ports: Gadkari

Sagarmala Project

New Delhi : The Sagarmala Project, aimed at port-led development in coastal areas, is bound to boost the country’s economy and the government has lined up about Rs 70,000 crore for its 12 major ports only, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

“Ports play a pivotal role in boosting the country’s economic growth. Logistic cost has to be reduced. Our logistic cost is thrice than China’s. We are not able to compete with global markets…

“When Prime Minister Narendra Modi had called the meeting of industry leaders, a leading industrialist said Mumbai to London travel is cheaper than Mumbai to Delhi. Sagarmala will address all these issue by port-led development programmes,” Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Gadkari said after chairing the first meeting of the National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) here.

Gadkari said the project is aimed at development of coastal states through modernisation, mechanisation and computerisation and would create huge employment besides boosting the country’s GDP.

“Ports will play huge role in double digit GDP target and port, shipping and highways sector will very soon add 2 per cent to the country’s GDP,” he said.
He added that about Rs 70,000 crore would be spent on development of major ports only which have received 104 suggestions from international consultants to increase efficiency.

Once implemented, this will result in cargo traffic increasing three-fold while the ports will also go under performance audit, the Minister said.

He added that at “Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone, there are investment proposals for Rs 4,000 crore, which will provide employment to 1.5 lakh youth.”

He said the government is focusing on waterways as transport through rivers is much cheaper and costs barely 30-40 paise per km in comparison to Rs 1 through railways and Rs 1.5 through roads.

“Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd in Odisha is expanding its output capacity to 260 million tonnes from the present 60 million tonnes and if the coal is transported through water, this will save Rs 7,000 crore annually,” he added.

He said two ports — Kandla and Paradip — were being developed into Green smart cities and the government is eyeing at Rs 4,500 profit from ports this fiscal.

Gadkari said the Prime Minister’s emphasis is on “cooperative federalism” and Chief Ministers of states like Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Odisha, who attended the NSAC meet, came out with many good proposals.

Government also aims to promote tourism and fishery under Sagarmala, he said, adding that there are 290 light houses and 1,300 islands in the country which could be developed.

Gadkari said tenders for development of 16 such projects have already been floated and the government is looking at promoting export of exotic variety of fishes, roping in local youth in projects through skill development.

He said 13 states and union territories were involved in Sagarmala initiative which will be implemented across India’s 7,500 kms coastline.

The maiden meeting of NSAC was participated by Niti Aayog’s Vice Chairman Arvind Panagariya besides several central ministers, including Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, Railways Minister Suresh Prabhu, Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti and Environment and Forest Minister Prakash Javadekar.

The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

The project aims at providing an institutional framework for ensuring integrated development, including modernisation and setting up of new ports, and efficient evacuation to and from hinterland.

The government recently discussed potential for developing a world-class transshipment port in India and promoting the usage of coastal shipping and inland waterways for transporting key commodities like coal, iron ore, foodgrains and petroleum products recently.

In March, Cabinet had given ‘in-principle’ nod to the project, aimed at port-led development in coastal states.

Funds required in 2015-16 for implementation of projects in the initial phase of Sagarmala is pegged at Rs 692 crore.

Meanwhile, when asked on the issue of movement of trucks between India and Nepal, Gadkari said the Ministry of External Affairs is looking into it and some trucks have started coming.

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