India's Prime Minister Unveils Sweeping Ports Plan

Docks, Mumbai (file image courtesy Robert Cutts)

By MarEx 2016-04-14 21:00:26

In kicking off the Maritime India Summit in Mumbai, Prime Minister Narendra Modi called for public and private investments totaling to one lakh crore rupees ($15 billion) in ports and related infrastructure, expenditures intended to double the nation's seaborne cargo handling capacity within a decade. 

He said that the nation's port authorities and terminal operators were already well under way towards this target, with project awards totaling to about $3.8 billion over the past two years. 

“Five new ports are planned to meet the increasing demand of the exim trade, which will rise in proportion with the fast-growing Indian economy. New ports are also being developed by several coastal states of India,” Modi said. 

Part of the planned capacity is to handle a government target for a threefold rise in coastwise shipments, notably bulk. Under a "Make in India" policy, the nation's coal mines have been ramping up output, and coal production is expected to continue to grow for the near future; the government hopes that coastal shipping will grow in parallel to carry the fuel to powerplants. 

To guide investment decisions, Modi's shipping ministry has identified hundreds of port and infrastructure priorities along the entirety of India's coastline in what it calls the Sagarmala project. The newly unveiled initiative is billed as a driver of exports, GDP growth and job creation. "GDP can grow by 1.3-1.4 percent more if we can do several things like investing in ports and port connectivity and also by creating very large industrial cities linked to the ports," said Amitabh Kant, CEO of the National Institution for Transforming India (NITI Aayog). 

Indian officials have also recently expressed interest in overseas ports investments, in Africa, Iran and Bangladesh