Indian government revives SagarMala Project to modernise ports
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The Shipping Ministry is planning to implement the Sagar Mala Project with an aim to improve India’s ports to international standards and increase connectivity to hinterland business clusters. The Sagar Mala Project was first announced by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on August 15, 2003. Among the aims were expansion and modernisation of the shipping sector, development of inland navigation, and improvement in draft. It was proposed that an investment of over Rs.1,00,000 crore was required over a period of 10 years to implement the project, with most of the funds coming from the private sector. However, the project was in abeyance during the UPA rule of around 10 years. On August 3, 2009, G. K. Vasan, the then Minister of Shipping, told the Parliament, “The draft outline of ‘Sagar Mala’ Programme which was prepared pursuant to the announcement of Sagar Mala initiative by the then Prime Minister on 15th August, 2003, could not be processed to its finality. No project has, therefore, been taken up under this Programme.” However, Narendra Modi was quick to revive the project and put it at the centre of his “Make in India” campaign which aims to boost manufacturing and increase India’s share in global trade. Modi says that ports can become gateways to India’s prosperity as almost two-third of all global trade, and 50% of container trade happens through the Indian Ocean. Today, the Shipping Ministry held a conference to finalise the draft of the Sagar Mala Project which saw the participation of 45 stakeholders including Ministry of Railways, Surface Transport & Highways, DIPP, Planning Commission, Customs, Major and Minor Ports, State Maritime Boards, ADB and representatives from trade and industry. A plan to establish a Sagar Mala Development Authority was proposed and the project will be implemented soon, said the Shipping Ministry.
This article was published on October 1, 2014.