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Huge Opportunities For Investment in Maritime Sector: Nitin Gadkari

The Shipping Tribune had the opportunity to interview Shri Nitin Gadkari, Honorable Minister for Road Transport & Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, River Development & Ganga Rejuvenation in the Government of India. There have been several improvements and milestones achieved in areas of road and river transport, Tourism promotion, Improvement in the infrastructure of the Shipping industry and numerous policy initiatives. The interview captures Shri Nitin Gadkari’s thoughts and updates on a wide range of topics including the progress of the Sagarmala project, the Cabotage law, fall in the bunker sales in India and what the government is doing to improve the situation. To view the interview, please click on the below link:

Excerpts from the interview with Shri Nitin Gadkari:

Development of inland waterways, road and river transport

The Government is moving fast in terms of road construction. “We have increased the length of the national highway from 96000 km to 1.5 lakh km. As for the pace of construction, when I took charge as a minister it was 2km per day, now it is 28 km per day and probably by next march end it will be more than 40 km a day.”

At the same time, the parliament passed the bill by which we have already converted 111 rivers into waterways. The World Bank sanctioned 5,500 crores of loan for the Ganga project, which we are utilizing as we have started working on inland waterways from Varanasi to Haldia. We’re going to complete this project by the next march end. Here, we are making four multimodal hubs.”

There has been a significant development in the area with the Government taking active measures,  “We started water coast tourism and water transport and already 10 lakh tonnes of material is exported from the ganga river. We are facilitating water transport between Varanasi to Allahabad, maintain draft of one metre and we are maintaining the draft of 2.5 metre in Ganga and which is going to change  the total transport scenario in Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Odissa and ultimately Bengal. And via Bengal it can go northeast to Brahmaputra. This can be a gamechanger and it will become a growth engine for all sectors.”

Cargo Transportation and Tourism Promotion

In the Indian scenario, there is a huge potential with two lakh people from India going to Singapore every year for the cruise experience.

“Every year in Mumbai we receive 80 cruise ships and in five years we are expecting 900 cruises with a turnover of 30,000 crores and 32 lakh people. We are making an international cruise terminal in Mumbai and the work of the domestic cruise terminal has been completed. On 21st October 2018, the cruise service from Mumbai to Goa started, equipped with all the facilities. We are expecting some Indian investment in this sector, Essel industries is planning to invest in this sector.”

There is economic viability and potential in the domestic and international scenario, with expectations of huge investments in this sector, creating jobs for two lakh people from that area particularly in this field.

With respect to Cargo transportation, the Government is starting Ro-Ro service and all types of services where there is huge potential of transportation of cargo. “We have already taken 25 lakh tonnes of steel from Vishakhapatnam to Cochin and Mumbai.”

River Ports and Terminals

“We are planning of having a potential of 2000 river ports out of which by the end of next year we will convert at least 100 ports. We have 12 major ports and 200 minor and private ports, there is significant potential everywhere. We can use it to make passenger terminals, jetties and floating jetties.”

Progress of the Sagarmala Project

“An investment of 16 lakh crores is expected, out of which four lakh crores is for port road connectivity, port rail connectivity, mechanization and modernization of ports. Out of the four lakh crores, we have already started projects worth more than 2,80,000 crores. Then there is a provision for special economic zone, coastal development zone, industrial development zone, industrial clusters. We are making petroleum clusters, industrial clusters, automobile clusters, vehicle clusters and other different types of clusters.

There is port led development and we are expecting an investment of 12 lakh crore. Take the example of JNPT. When we auctioned the land, we got the price four times more than our expectation. Even in JNPT we are looking to give employment to 1,25,000 people, particularly from the Konkan area. 80% of the people will be from that area. It is an economic growth engine for Mumbai and for the country.”

Eco- Friendly policies

“We want to use ethanol, methanol, bio diesel, bio-cng and electricity. We are continuously researching cost effective and pollution free imports substitutes. Just a few days back, we flew in SpiceJet from Dehradun to Delhi successfully with 25% of bio aviation fuel. Now we are trying to convert engines to bio aviation fuel. We are making oil from bamboo and trying to find the most effective uses for that. I am confident that we will get the solution.”

Policy initiative to promote Ship Owning

“The Shipping industry is being given an infrastructure status, but presently private shipyards are not in good position. For the last ten years they have been facing very crucial economic problems and we are now giving subsidies to manufacturers . In spite of that however, the situation is very challenging, and we are trying to help them but at an international level there are a lot of problems and China is very competitive. Some issues are internationally industry specific and some issues are domestically industry specific.”

Efforts for Issues faced by the industry domestically

“A constant effort is being made to find solutions. Some of the solutions are in my hand but some of the decisions lie with the finance minister. I am trying my best to convince them; the GST council is there, and I am always taking all these economic issues to finance ministry. I am trying my level best to get resolved these issues.”

Cabotage Law

“There are two sides to the Cabotage Law and we always have to think with the integrated approach in the interest of the country. We are trying our best to find the way outs, we will take a review of the cabotage law after one year and find the solution.”

Fall in the bunker sales

The Government is looking into alternative fuel sources, “We are considering the use of methanol and LNG as fuel. Regarding the issue of 5% GST, we will try to convince the Finance ministry and GST council, to solve this issue.”

Employment Opportunities Generated

Looking at a promising figure, “In Cruise tourism alone, 2.5 lakh employment is anticipated to be generated. Regarding our port and ship building, Sagarmala project, where 16 lakh crore of investment is expected we are expecting an employment of 10 crore, direct and indirect. It will take about 5 years.”

Source: Capt. Virendra Mishra & Kavita Mishra/ TST Newsdesk


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