The first Maritime India Summit (MIS), which Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate in Mumbai on April 14, will showcase about 200 projects with an investment potential of US $6 billion, an official said Wednesday.
The summit is an attempt by the central government to attract investment in the Indian Shipping and Maritime industry from both domestic as well as international players and is being partnered by South Korea which is known for its ship-building capacities.
In a run-up to the April summit, the Union Ministry of Shipping along with the Kolkata Port Trust (KoPT) and the Indian Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Wednesday held a roadshow in Kolkata.
Speaking at the roadshow, the ministry’s deputy secretary, Abhishek Chandra, said: “The 200 projects comprise 20 projects per port and together have a US $ 6 billion investment potential. Smart cities have been conceptualised at Kandla and Paradeep. For ship building, South Korea is our proposed partner country since they have a high degree of expertise in this field. We have commissioned 25 new projects in hinterland connectivity. One new waterways will save the country up to Rs 20,000 crore in transportation cost alone – that is an added Rs 20,000 crore as revenue for India.”
The ministry had previously planned to hold roadshows overseas but due to paucity of time, it was restricted to five cities in the country, Chandra said. The government has reached out to at least 30 countries to explore opportunities at the summit, he added.
Chandra said the projects which will be highlighted include three greenfield major ports in Maharashtra, Sagar Islands (West Bengal) and Colachel (Tamil Nadu) and the Sagarmala project, among others
President, ICC, S S Kaul said despite India being essentially a costal country, in the past 60 years little focus has been given to developing the investment opportunities on the coasts and in its maritime activities.
“The focus in development and investment has rather been in the hinterland. The idea of redeveloping the ports and re-engaging in maritime activity is what can be the game changer in terms of development. The amount of cargo being carried on waterways has already doubled over the past few years. There are 106 waterways which are being planned across the country. The vision for West Bengal is easy to earmark as the hub for the eastern, north eastern parts of the country as well as for the ASEAN nations,” he said.
A deep sea port is already being developed at Sagar Island in West Bengal. With this new port and the existing Kolkata and Haldia ports, “West Bengal can reclaim its importance in maritime activity, something it should always have had,” he added.
“The Indian government has identified 27 port projects which will affect 14 states across the country and the two land locked nations of Bhutan and Nepal. Even in the north east, very often it is difficult to create road and rail infrastructure because of the terrain, whereas riverine infrastructure can be developed. This will also be far more cost effective and reduce the cost of transportation of goods by as much as 50 per cent,” said Manish Jain, Deputy Chairman Kolkata Port Trust.
Jain pointed out that the new Sagar Island port had been planned and proposed by the government with a carrying capacity of eight million tonnes of cargo. “The PM and the CM (Mamata Banerjee) will lay the foundation for this port soon. Of the total Rs 1500 crore, 74 per cent of the cost has been borne by the KoPT and the remaining 26 per cent by the West Bengal government. LNG-based jetties are being developed in Haldia and Kolkata which will be a catalyst for the development of LNG-based industries in the entire region. Since our ship-building and repairing capacity is limited, our ships go to other countries for repair. Now two ship building projects have been planned for Bengal,” Jain said.
(With PTI inputs)