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Tenders for 3 ports worth Rs 20K cr to come by March: Gadkari

Gadkari at ASSOCHAM conference

Mumbai : The government will float tenders for three new major ports in Maharashtra, West Bengal and Tamil Nadu by March, entailing investment of Rs 20,000 crore, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said today.

“I can assure you that we will issue tenders for these three projects which require an investment of Rs 18,000-20,000 crore, by March and the work on the projects like breakwaters will begin by April-May,” Shipping and Road, Transport & Highways Minister told an industry meet here.

The three new ports will come up in Wadhwan (Maharashtra), Sagar (West Bengal) and Colachel (Tamil Nadu).

On whether the country should have more ports when the existing ones are not operating to capacity, Gadkari said the idea is to let them compete more, helping consumers through correction in rates.

The government is also targeting to increase the use of cheaper and cleaner water transport for movement of goods to 15 per cent of the trade by 2019, from the present 3.5 per cent, he said.

Gadkari said logistics constitutes for up to 30 per cent of a finished product’s cost, which makes exports uncompetitive.

He said the 12 major ports and three state-run undertakings under his ministry will be delivering a profit of Rs 6,000 crore this fiscal, and the entire money will be invested for modernisation, computerisation and mechanisation of ports.

An international consultant has provided 120 suggestions towards this purpose, of which the ministry has implemented around 28, he added.

Apart from this, the ministry has also engaged McKinsey to study the entire cargo movement scenario in the country and suggest ways to improve efficiency, the Minister said, adding the final report is expected in a month.

Citing the example of Mahanadi Coalfields (MCL), Gadkari said transporting the coal to Paradip Port in Odisha and then getting it to the upcoming Wadhwan Port to feed the power plants in Marathwada will make power cheaper by up to 80 paise a unit. Production from MCL is slated to go up five times to 300 million tonnes in the next three years.

The Minister said according to McKinsey, routing the cargo from Paradip Port will alone help save up to Rs 10,000 crore annually.

To increase rail-port connectivity, the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has set up a dedicated corporation and is targeting to kick start works of up to Rs 80,000 crore in the next few years, Gadkari said.

With pollution becoming a major issue, Gadkari said:”We should focus on running ships on the cleaner liquefied natural gas, which is also cheaper”.

As the inland waterways gain more currency, Gadkari promised that the National Highways Authority is willing to pick up the tab for dredging works in riverbeds which will help maintain the depth in the channel.

Gadkari said many chief ministers including Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi and West Bengal’s Mamata Banerjee have given their consent to the scheme and soon the NHAI will be signing a joint MoUs with them.

With the government’s declaration to develop as many as 111 inland waterways across major rivers, creeks and canals, Gadkari asked major ports to form subsidiaries which will take up 12-15 projects each that will come in their home states.

He also asked India Inc to have faith in the commitment of government and promised full transparency and predictability in policies and regulations.

In case officials create hurdles or indulge in corruption, industry leaders should raise the matter publicly, he said.

He also asked fishermen to form cooperatives, purchase trawlers which can operate in deep seas and also promised to finance them at zero interest, against an assurance that a fifth of the catch will have to be given to the government till the repayment of the principal.

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