The voyage towards becoming a maritime nation truly began with the maiden Maritime India Summit 2016, that resulted in investment contracts of nearly Rs.83,000 crore ($13 billion).
As many as 141 agreements entailing an investment of Rs.82,900 crore ($13 billion) were signed at the Maritime India Summit, which was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The investment commitments were across shipping, ports and allied sectors.
Inaugurating the summit, Modi said that his government would mobilise Rs.1 trillion worth of investments in ports over the next decade to increase their capacities by more than double. He promised to personally handhold investors for a ´safe, secure and satisfactory´ berthing to help them to transform the country´s 7,500-km-long coastline into an ´engine of growth.´ He said, ´Apart from the length of the coastline, India´s maritime potential also lies in its strategic location on all major shipping highways.
In addition, we have an expansive and productive hinterland, through which flows a network of mighty rivers.
Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari also said that the Shipping Ministry is targeting investments worth $60 billion (nearly Rs.3.99 lakh crore) over a five-year term for 240 projects to ensure the success of the ambitious Sagarmala project.
The Sagarmala project is based on four strategic levers. These are: optimising multimodal transport to decrease the cost of domestic cargo movement; reducing time and cost of export-import cargo logistics; lowering costs for bulk industries by locating them in the coastal vicinity and enhancing export competitiveness by locating discrete manufacturing clusters near ports.
Gadkari specified that the Sagarmala project would bring down the cost of logistics to 10 per cent (in line with other nations) from 18 per cent at present, making Indian goods much more competitive. This would mean an annual savings of around $5.25 billion on logistics. Besides, the programme is projected to enhance India´s merchandise exports to $110 billion by 2025 as well as generate about 10 million new jobs.
Gadkari singled out Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar´s announcement of entering into a pact with the Shipping Ministry as one of the biggest achievements of the summit. The contract will ensure an order flow of nearly Rs.75,000 crore to troubled private sector shipyards. Gadkari said orders of Rs.50,000 crore would come on a nomination basis from the Cochin Shipyard while another Rs.25,000 crore would come from other departments, apart from the Defence Ministry orders.
ôWe will outsource work to private sector shipyards and help them financially. This will give them the oxygen they need for survival,´ Gadkari said.
Another MoU signed relates to the establishment of a greenfield port at Vadhavan, Maharashtra. Phase I of the project is to cost around Rs.9,167 crore. A shareholders´ agreement for the project was signed between JNPT and the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB). Once completed, the new port will allow large-sized ships to enter Indian waters and will also help de-congest JNPT and Mumbai Port.
In another landmark development, the Government of Andhra Pradesh entered into an MoU in the presence of N Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of the state. The agreement was signed with the Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) for development of National Waterway 4 at an estimated cost of around Rs.3,000 crore. National Waterway 4 passes through Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Puducherry. Once developed, this waterway will help take a significant portion of cargo traffic off the roads.
Petronet LNG also signed an MoU with IWAI to facilitate greater use of LNG in inland water transport, thereby reducing carbon footprint. Cochin Shipyard Limited, too, entered into an agreement with Samsung Heavy Industries to formalise a technical cooperation for building LNG ships in India. This will also be the first of its kind in the country.
Gujarat Maritime Board agreed with IL&FS to develop a maritime services cluster at GIFT City, Gandhinagar. The proposed cluster will provide all maritime services and will be the first such initiative in the country.
Adani group announced plans to invest around Rs.28,000 crore over the next five years in various projects. A representative of Adani Ports & SEZ said that the group would invest in new ports in the states of Odisha and Gujarat. JSW Group also proposed to invest around Rs.10,000 crore over a span of five years.
Prior to the summit, India had signed an MoU with the Republic of Korea for cooperation and assistance in port-related matters. This includes development of ports, port-related industries, maritime relationships and sharing of technology. Jointly organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI), the two-day Maritime Summit 2016 was a runaway success. In February, along with the Indian government, CII had organised the ´Make in India´week that drew investment commitments of Rs.15.2 lakh crore.