How India's Sagarmala projects are driving country's maritime success

Ports are playing a major role in country's economic development

By Aftab H. Kola

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Published: Sat 22 Oct 2022, 5:44 PM

India has completed 209 port-related projects under its flagship Sagarmala programme. Launched in 2015, Sagarmala is a series of projects to leverage India's coastline and inland waterways, helping make it a leading maritime nation in the world.

Ports play a major role in India's economic development as 95 per cent of the country's foreign trade by volume and 68 per cent by value is through maritime operations.

Sagarmala will implement 802 projects with a massive investment of Rs5.48 trillion by 2035. Of these, 210 projects worth Rs1.04 trillion have already been completed while 221 projects worth Rs2.34 trillion are in various stages of implementation. The remaining 371 projects valued at Rs2.10 trillion are under various stages of development.

Most of the projects will be completed within the next 3-5 years — half of them within the next two years. Only a few projects related to greenfield developments will take more time.

Bhushan Kumar, joint secretary (Sagarmala & PPP), Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, Government of India, said the completion of 210 projects worth Rs1.04 trillion under Sagarmala had boosted capacity by more than 230 MTPA (metric tonnes per annum). Completed port connectivity projects have added approximately 1,300km of road and rail connectivity to ports. Another nine port-led industrialisation projects worth Rs458.65 billion have been completed. More than 8,000 acres of land have been allotted for industrialisation. And more than 200,000 direct and indirect jobs have been created, he told Khaleej Times.

He added that infrastructure modernisation and improved connectivity to ports have helped lower the overall operational costs of ports, reduced turnaround time for vessels, and increased efficiency and throughput. This has provided the ability to handle larger ships and developed the strategic importance of Indian ports in the South Asian region. These efforts, along with others made by government departments, helped India export a record $400 billion worth of goods in 2021-22.

RoPax, a roll on-roll off-cum-passenger ferry service between Mumbai and Mandwa near Alibaug, has emerged as an alternative sustainable transport which generates lower external costs, substantially lowers the risk of accidents, saves fuel and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. RO-RO and tourism jetty projects were launched with Sagarmala funds.

The government is promoting Ro-Ro and passenger transportation through waterways as they are an environmentally friendly mobility solution that reduces costs and time.

RoPax facilities are being developed by the state or central authorities while vessel deployment and services are mainly carried out by private players. The ministry is developing novel business models for operations and maintenance (O&M) on long-term contracts while promoting the use of electric ferries for urban water transport. Separate schemes will be prepared in consultation with stakeholders to provide suitable financial assistance during the operational phase.

A total of nine projects related to Ro-Ro and passenger jetties have been completed at a cost of approximately Rs2.07 billion. The services on the Ghogha-Dahej and Ghogha-Hazira routes and Ferry Wharf at Mumbai-Mandwa are already operational, benefiting about 300,000 passengers, 50,000 cars and 24,000 trucks.

Under Sagarmala, nine fishing harbours have been constructed in Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka and Maharashtra at a cost of Rs1.44 billion, directly benefiting nearly 30,000 fishermen.

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterway has also set up capacity-building institutes such as the Centre of Excellence in Maritime and Shipbuilding, the National Technology Centre for Ports, Waterways and Coasts, and the Centre for Inland and Coastal Maritime Technology to promote technology and research in the ports sector.

Under Sagarmala, the government has taken modernisation, mechanisation, and digital transformation measures at ports to reduce costs and time in international trade.

The government is committed to developing the best-in-class port infrastructure. The Maritime India Vision 2030 lays special emphasis on the development and upgrade of port infrastructure in the country. Brownfield capacity augmentation, development of world-class mega ports, development of a transhipment hub in southern India, and infrastructure modernisation will be carried out to achieve key performance indicators set under MIV 2030.

For the holistic development of coastal districts, a total of 567 projects have been identified under convergence mode at an estimated cost of Rs587 billion. Sagarmala focuses on reducing logistical costs and improving EXIM competitiveness. The Holistic Development of Coastal Districts programme aims to fill infrastructure gaps in coastal areas and promote economic growth.

With the addition of projects identified in the Holistic Development of Coastal Districts programme and the new project proposals received under Sagarmala, the total number of projects now stand at 1,537 worth Rs6.5 trillion.

To encourage private sector participation and to reduce the financial burden on the exchequer, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways has a clear and robust pipeline of 31 projects of over Rs145 billion. These will be awarded on a public-private partnership basis till 2024-25. The ministry is also developing two mega-cruise terminal projects under Sagarmala at Mumbai and Mormugao ports. The project to upgrade and modernise an International Cruise Terminal in Mumbai at a cost of Rs3.03 billion is more than 70 per cent complete. The ministry is also supporting the development of international and domestic cruise terminals and allied facilities at the Mormugao Port.

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