Launched in July 2015, Sagarmala is the most ambitious programme undertaken so far by the Ministry of Shipping (MoS). The project aims to promote port-led development and provide infrastructure for transporting goods to and from ports in a quick, efficient and cost-effective manner. There are four broad elements or “pillars” of the Sagarmala programme – port modernisation, hinterland connectivity, port-led industrial development and coastal community development.
The Sagarmala programme was first envisaged by the National Democratic Alliance government as early as 2003. The programme came back into limelight in June 2014 with the MoS being made the nodal ministry for the project. Later in November 2014, the MoS sought in-principle approval for the Sagarmala concept. Finally in March 2015, the cabinet approved the “Sagarmala – Concept and Implementation” and launched the programme in July 2015.
Progress so far
In a major development, in April 2016, the MoS formulated the National Perspective Plan (NPP) under the Sagarmala programme. The plan has been approved by the National Sagarmala Apex Committee. A total of 150 projects (comprising all four elements of the Sagarmala programme) have been identified under the plan. These projects entail a total investment of Rs 4,000 billion.
The NPP has identified 40 port modernisation projects and six locations for setting up mega ports. The plan has also identified 27 clusters (nine energy, five materials and 13 discrete manufacturing) under the port-led industrialisation pillar and 14 projects under the coastal economic zone (CEZ) pillar. Of these, three CEZs each have been identified in Gujarat and Tamil Nadu, two each in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh, and one each in Kerala, Karnataka, Odisha and West Bengal.
Further, another 65 projects have been proposed to enhance port connectivity to the country’s production and consumption centres. These include 10,000 km of last-mile port connectivity infrastructure, 12 new expressways, heavy-haul rail corridors to transport coal, new pipelines for transporting crude and petroleum products, new multimodal logistics hubs, and the development of inland waterways.
Recently, in May 2016, Indian Port Rail Company Limited (IPRCL) awarded three rail connectivity projects worth Rs 387.1 million under the Sagarmala programme. Two of these projects have been awarded at Visakhapatnam port and one at Chennai port. For Visakhapatnam port, IPRCL has sanctioned Rs 167.5 million for a project providing direct connectivity between the east coast and the western sector. The other project awarded to the port is for connecting the dead-end line located north of the reception and despatch yard to East Coast Railway at an estimated cost of Rs 92.8 million. The third is the connectivity project at Chennai port which involves the laying of a new railway track west of Western Yard I and providing a paving block platform. The overall cost of this project is Rs 126.8 million.
The way forward
The Sagarmala programme aims at transforming India’s coastal landscape and furthering economic growth. Going forward, the Make in India initiative will have strong synergies with the programme, as ports will become hubs for manufacturing, trading, urban living and infrastructure growth. There will be ample market opportunities for contractors, consultants, dredging companies and shipyards under Sagarmala programme.
To reap the benefits of the country’s untapped coastal potential, timely execution of the programme is imperative. Central and state coordination will be key, as multiple agencies and ministries (port, industry, rail, road, urban and tourism) will need to work together to ensure its success.