Shipping ministry plans National Ports Grid for maritime development

The union ministry of shipping is working on a plan to develop a National Grid for Ports based on synergy between the major and minor ports in the country, minister of state for shipping and MoS chemicals and fertilisers Mansukh Mandaviya announced while addressing the media after the 17th meeting of Maritime States Development Council (MSDC) in New Delhi on Tuesday.

Mandaviya said there are 204 minor ports in the country, of which only 44 are currently functional. All these ports have been centres of maritime activity in the past, and if revived, they can once again become important centres of sea trade. 
The minister said the centre is looking at developing synergy between the major and minor ports so that together they can bring port led development in the country.
Mandaviya said a development plan for ports and National Port Grid will be ready within six months. Extensive study will be conducted for revival of each port, identifying the specific cargo linked to it and the downstream industry. The centre will share the study findings with the states so that the non-functional minor ports can be developed and made functional. The minister called for greater cooperation between the centre and the states to develop the maritime sector.
The minister also said that the coastal shipping and inland waterways sector are poised to play a vital role in the development of the country. The cost effective and pollution free water transport can reduce logistics costs in the country, making Indian goods more competitive in the global markets, he said.
The minister further said that the ministry of shipping is planning expansion of port capacity through the implementation of well-conceived infrastructure development projects, increasing the efficiency of port operations through the implementation of a package of recommendations to cut time and cost, digitisation of processes to reduce and finally eliminate human interface and to strongly address environment related concerns.
He further informed that the conference discussed issues like developing common and comprehensive guidelines for inland waterways barges so that barges of different states can move seamlessly in coastal waters.  
The meeting also discussed at length port security, including security of both major and minor ports. Mandaviya said port security at every Indian port would be upgraded to international levels.
The minister also laid emphasis on the advent of cruise tourism in India and the importance of SEZs being developed at JNPT and Smart Industrial Port Cities at Kandla and Paradip. He also said that establishment of research based institutes like CEMS, CICMT at IIT, Kharagpur and NTCPWC, IIT, Madras will help the maritime industry to get indigenous research and skilled manpower.
MSDC is an apex advisory body for the development of the maritime sector that aims to ensure integrated development of major and non-major ports. The MSDC was constituted in May, 1997 to assess in consultation with State Governments, the future development of existing and new minor ports by the respective maritime states either directly or through captive users and private participation. MSDC also monitors the development of minor ports, captive ports and private ports in the maritime states with a view to ensure their integrated development with major ports and to assess the requirements of other infrastructure.