Union Minister Mansukh Mandaviya said that the government will put in place a comprehensive port grid and port development plan in 6 months for 204 minor ports in the country to boost coastal shipping and inland waterways, and bring a Bill in Parliament to provide a fillip to major ports.
India has 12 major ports — Deendayal (erstwhile Kandla), Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Kamarajar (earlier Ennore), V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) — and 204 minor ports under the control of states.
Shipping Minister Mandaviya said “The plan will be comprehensive as states lack technical support and world-class guidance,”. The decision was taken at the 17th meeting of the Martime State Development Council (MSDC), in which secretaries of states participated. MSDC is an apex advisory body for the development of maritime sector and aims to ensure integrated development of major and non-major ports.
Minor ports could boost inland waterways and coastal shipping and “we will provide comprehensive plans for development”, he said, adding that it would be state governments’ responsibility to decide the mode of development, including public private partnership model. The need for the plan was felt as only 44 minor ports of the 204 are fully functional in India.
“A new Major Port Bill will be introduced in the Winter session of Parliament. Many powers will be bestowed on port chairman to take small decisions related to ports’ development. This will be done so that major ports can compete with other ports and all files should not reach the Ministry for decisions,” he said. The government will also bring in synergy for movement of barges as different states have different charges, communication system, among others, currently.
Mandaviya said that at present projects worth about Rs 2.5 lakh crore are going on under the Sagarmala project. A multi-pronged strategy to improve shipping sector will result in reduction of logistics costs which are at 14 per cent as compared to 9 per cent globally. The government wants to boost fisheries to develop blue economy, and deep-sea vessels are being planned for fishermen, he said.
The MSDC meet also discussed augmenting port security on a priority basis by scanning imported container cargos as well as internal ship movements. Besides, a decision was taken to boost cruise tourism and take the number of international cruises calling on Indian ports to 1,000 from 200 now.