The two-day annual port sector review meeting here has come out with a multi-pronged action plan to not only boost infrastructure in major ports but also venture into other ‘innovative’ activities to spur economic growth in the sector as well as other spheres. While the Sagarmala project is expected to steer port led development in the next three years, the Shipping Ministry plans to foray into other spheres that will lead to job creation and economic growth, besides addressing some of the port sector’s own problems.
Boosting export of agro and aqua products, generation of power, setting up of desalination plants, purchase of own wagons (for freight carriage), launch of cruise operations to promote tourism are some of the ideas the meeting came up with. The ‘most important emphasis’ for major ports would now be on improving export of agriculture and aqua products, said Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari,who chaired the meeting.
Addressing a press conference at the end of the review meeting, he said all ports have been directed to formulate a
policy for export of agricultural products and sea food. “Under Sagarmala, we have earmarked Rs 7,000 crore for
development of blue economy and agriculture. In the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, we have allotted land for an SEZ, with an expected investment of Rs 1,000 crore, which will be a 100 per cent export-oriented unit,” he said.
While Kandla Port in Gujarat currently has a 15 MW wind power generating facility, it has been proposed to generate
2000 MW of wind and solar power in a hybrid model.”This will be very useful for the port sector as ports are
now buying power at Rs 11 per unit. Once the 2000 MW power is generated, we can it get it for as low as Rs 2.40 a unit. The Union Ministry of Power is ready to invest money on this and the power produced will be given to NTPC,” he added.
He said three desalination plants would be established on a pilot basis at Tuticorin, Kandla and Paradip. Gadkari said that when power is available for less than Rs three (per unit), fresh water can be produced at just three paisa per litre from the desalination plants. “This water will be supplied to urban areas closer to the ports first and then rural areas where it will be very useful for agriculture,” the Union Minister said. “If that is successful, it will be a great thing for the districts that are connected to the sea coast,” he added.
Gadkari said a general purpose wagon investment scheme was also being worked out for better evacuation of cargo at a lesser cost. “We will invest in wagons, rakes and rail engines independently with the permission of railways. We can this increase freight movement, overcoming the problems now being faced in getting rail wagons in time,” he pointed out.
Referring to tourism, the Shipping Minister said there were 20 proposals for operating cruises. The Shipping Corporation of India would be given Rs 800 crore to procure necessary cruise boats, while cruise terminals would be built at all major ports. “On August 1, we will be launching the first cruise service from Mumbai to Goa with a passenger capacity of 500.A new terminal will come up in Mumbai for domestic and international cruises,” Gadkari said.
A cruise service would also be launched on river Krishna soon. He asked all minor and private Port operators to build
cruise terminals to improve water transport in the country. Ministers of State Pon Radhakrishnan, Mansukh L Mandaviya and senior officials were also present.