New Delhi: India will invest Rs451,300 crore ($100 billion) over a ten year period in a bid to develop new ports and manufacture merchant ships under a major plan aimed at augmenting port capacity, overhauling port facilities and enlarging the country's merchant fleet. The plan is aimed at promoting the country as a global manufacturing hub and enhancing the country's export potential.
The investments are proposed to be made through private and public participation, with Rs287,000 crore earmarked for ports and Rs165,000 crore for ships.
"We want to bring our ports at a par with the best international ports in terms of performance and capacity," Indian shipping minister GK Vasan said in a statement released with the "Maritime Agenda 2010-2020" plan on Thursday.
The plan will seek to triple the country's cargo handling capacity from 963 million tonnes in 2009-2010 to 3.13 billion tonnes in 2019-2020.
The 10-year plan will see the government upgrade four of the existing 13 ports to become major maritime hubs.
The ports for upgrade are Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust at Navi Mumbai and Kochi on the west coast and Chennai and Visakhapatnam on the east coast.
Private investments in the upgradation of major ports will be allowed mainly "…on Build, Operate and Transfer (BOT) basis with revenue sharing mechanism."
"Foreign direct investment up to 100% is permitted for construction and maintenance of ports and harbours," said Vasan.
This will include the construction of cargo handling berths, container terminals and warehousing facilities, installation of cargo handling equipment, construction of dry-docks and ship repair facilities, among others.
Increasing the number of major ports and improving facilities at existing ports is seen as critical in the country's bid to convert itself into a global export hub for manufactured goods.
In turn, the manufacturing sector is expected to generate mass employment and accelerate economic growth.
The investments will cover the development of two new major ports on the country's east and west coasts, the location of which remains unspecified.
The massive up-gradation plan also seeks to raise India's share of the global shipbuilding industry from one to five per cent by 2020.
It also seeks to increase the percentage of Indian seafarers in the global shipping industry from the current 6-7 per cent level to nine per cent by 2015.
The shipping ministry is also working on a Single Act Bill to unify all port regulations across the country including control on tariffs.