The port and shipping sector has the potential to create employment for nearly 4 million directly and another 6 million indirectly over the next five year, union minister for shipping, road transport and highways Nitin Gadkari has said.
Speaking at the curtain raiser press conference of the India Maritime Summit in Mumbai on Friday, Gadkari said, ''all the developed countries have a vibrant port sector, but unfortunately, our maritime sector remained neglected over the years, despite having immense potential''.
Recalling Prime Minister Narendra Modi's thrust on port-led development, Gadkari said his ministry has drawn up projects with investment potential of Rs1,20,000 crore ($18 billion), which will be showcased at the India Maritime Summit to be held in Mumbai from 14 to 16 April. These include 27 port-based industrial clusters, promotion of coastal shipping and development of inland waterways as part of the Sagarmala Project, he said.
The minister said there was an urgent need to bring down the logistics costs to make our products as well exports competitive. ''Currently logistics costs in India are about 18 per cent, while it is 10-12 per cent in Europe. Our focus is on bringing down the logistics cost from 18 per cent to 12 per cent by developing coastal shipping and inland waterways. Needless to mention that water transport is the cheapest mode of transport'' he added.
Giving details of major initiatives taken by the government, Gadkari said new green field ports will be coming up at Vadhavan, near Dahanu in Maharashtra, Colachal near Kanyakumari in Tamilnadu and Sagar Island in West Bengal, entailing an investment of Rs20,157 crore.
He said port modernisation programmes, hinterland connectivity and multi-modal logistics also offer huge investment opportunities. The shipping ministry has also identified two marine clusters at Saurashtra in Gujarat and Ennore, Tamilnadu for shipbuilding, ship repair and recycling.
Similarly coastal steel clusters are planned at Southern Maharashtra and Northern Tamilnadu. Gadkari said the development of 111 inland waterways also offers huge investment opportunities in the fields of dredging, fairway development and terminal construction.
Secretary, shipping, Rajive Kumar said the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai, which will be inaugurated by the Prime Minister on 14 April, will be followed by investor summit, panel discussions, B2B and G2B meetings.
South Korea is the partner country of the summit. Delegates from 57 countries are expected to attend the summit.
''The Summit will showcase latest technologies, products and services as well as help disseminate knowledge about the latest development in the maritime sector. It will provide a platform to interact closely with leading global maritime organisations to explore business opportunities and create awareness about opportunities in India'' Kumar added.
Maritime India Summit will be organised at the Bombay Convention and Exhibition Centre, Goregaon (East).