In its maiden flagship Maritime India Summit, the Shipping Ministry claims investment of Rs 82,905 crore

Alleviating fears of port unions, Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told a group of CEOs that the government is not pursuing the agenda of corporatisation of state-owned major ports. “The opposition parties want to establish that the government is against the poor, this government is pro-industrialists. So, it is a fight for image,” Nitin Gadkari said. He was addressing a roundtable of CEOs at the Union government’s maiden flagship initiative, the Maritime India Summit 2016. The ministry has claimed to have drawn investments to the tune of Rs 82 crore through the maiden summit.

During the summit, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also released the Sagarmala National Perspective Plan. The perspective plan has been prepared with the aim of improving port infrastructure and connectivity. The focus will be on modernisation of port infrastructure, creation of five-six new ports. “Additionally, over 40 port-capacity enhancement projects will be taken up,” a government official said.

Various agreements were signed during the summit. They pertained to modernisation of existing ports and establishment of new ones. The focus of the agreements was on the development and extension of inland waterways, enhancement of the cargo handling capacity of Indian ports, improving hinterland connectivity of ports through road and rail network, upgradation of educational and training facilities for the maritime sector.

Gadkari, while addressing the CEOs, said that the issue is not of ports union. “It is a political problem,” he said, while referring to the unrest among port unions in anticipation of the possible corporatisation of major ports owned by the state. “That policy which was already there regarding corporatisation of ports, presently we don’t have any mind about it to take a decision on this subject,” he said.

The Sagarmala National Perspective Plan released on the occasion of the summit, detailed the government’s vision on port development and modernisation. The capacity of the existing ports will be increased, berths will be mechanised and drafts will be deepened to accommodate larger vessels. The plan envisages creating easy port connectivity by constructing freight-friendly expressways on key routes, developing strategic inland waterways so as to reduce the cost of transportation and encourage freight movement through inland waterways.

Moreover, 14 Coastal Economic Zones will be created along the coastline for industrial clusters. Gadkari said that the interest of the coastal communities will be taken into consideration by training them for jobs in port-led industrialisation.

The Shipping Ministry has claimed that it has signed agreements for investment worth Rs 82,905 crore in the sector. Gadkari said the ministry has also established an investment facilitation cell in the Indian Ports Association to follow-up on investment opportunities with potential investors. “This will help us ensure that the announcements and the intent expressed during the summit materialise into actual projects and investment,” a government official said.

According to the Press Information Bureau, over 5,000 delegates from 42 countries participated in the summit. This included representatives of 81 international companies, 80 Indian private sector companies and 36 government-owned entities.

The major MoUs signed during this summit include agreements for a greenfield port at Vadhavan in Maharashtra, a new LNG terminus at Chara in Gujarat, and capacity enhancement of Visakha Refinery from 7.50MMT to 15MMT in Visakhapatnam.


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