Views of Sarbananda Sonowal

“The Maritime India Vision 2030 will ensure coordinated and accelerated growth of the sector”

Sarbananda Sonowal, union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, and AYUSH,

India’s maritime sector has seen significant improvements in terms of efficiency, port operations and infrastructure development over the years. The Maritime India Vision 2030 (MIV 2030) will give a further fillip to the sector, as it aims to promote waterways, shipbuilding and cruise tourism. As a part of MIV 2030, the major ports need to undertake a capacity addition of 423 mtpa at an investment of over Rs 334 billion. Of this addition, 95 per cent is planned to be executed in public-private partnership (PPP)/captive mode. At recent industry events, SarbanandaSonowal, union minister of ports, shipping and waterways, and AYUSH, talked about the key focus areas for the government in the ports, shipping and inland waterways sector. Edited excerpts…

The infrastructure sector is the key driver of the economy. The sector has a crucial role to play in new India’s growth trajectory. The government is implementing various policies that will enable the development of timebound, world-class infrastructure and pave the way for India to become a $5 trillion economy by 2025. Launched in 2019, the National Infras­tructure Pipeline will act as an enabler for the infusion of funds in infrastructure development. Various ministries are ensuring fast-track implementation of infrastructure projects. These rejuvenated infrastructure projects will provide opportunities for the private sector to partner with the government in the coming years. Going forward, this will result in revenue generation and asset creation, and facilitate job creation.

Maritime India Vision 2030

The Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) has prepared a blueprint, MIV 2030, to ensure coordinated and accelerated growth of India’s maritime sector over the next decade. The key objective is to propel India to the forefront of the global maritime sector. Amongst the various initiatives identified under MIV 2030, the key ones are developing world-class mega ports, establishing transshipment hubs and modernising port infrastructure. These initiatives will help in lowering the overall operational costs of ports, reducing the turnaround time for vessels, increasing efficiency and throughput, unlocking the ability to handle larger ships and developing the strategic importance of Indian ports in the South Asian region.

MIV 2030 envisions an overall investment of Rs 3 trillion-3.5 trillion across the ports, shipping and inland waterways segments. This investment excludes projects alrea­dy under implementation as part of the Sagarmala programme. This roadmap is expected to help unlock over Rs 200 billion worth of potential annual revenue for Indian ports. Further, it is expected to create an additional 2 million jobs (direct and indirect) in the Indian maritime sector.

Development of mega ports

The MoPSW has asked all ports to prepare a master plan for their transformation into mega ports by 2047. Further, it has been suggested that the major ports draft land policy guidelines and explore the potential for satellite presence out of port limits. In a bid to make special purpose vehicles more efficient and effective, they will be repurposed to make them leaner and more agile in achieving the desired objectives.

Additionally, to improve port performance, all ports will be required to develop an independent feedback mechanism to identify gaps and resolve them in consultation with all stakeholders. Further, 100 per cent financial assistance has been proposed for the development of dedicated coastal berths at ports under the Sagar­mala programme, and to offer more berths in PPP mo­de. Finally, all ports must explo­re ways of adopting high-end technology and digitalisation practices for their operations.

Green port initiatives

Green port initiatives include the acquisition of equipment for monitoring environmental pollution, acquisition of dust suppression systems, setting up of sewage/wastewater treatment pl­an­ts, and setting up garbage disposal systems for ports and ships. The MoPSW is planning to launch a green port policy soon and is currently working on the draft document. The objective is to suggest a framework as well as provide guidelines for the incorporation of green initiatives in the port sector. Further, possibilities are being explored for the deployment of fully electric and hydrogen-fuelled ferries on inland waterways for the enhancement of river tourism in the country. The green initiatives undertaken by major ports will bring about a green revolution in the sector, making ports cleaner and greener, which is also a key component of the blue economy. This will generate environmental benefits and balance investments and cash flows.

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