Port Infrastructure and Shipping Industry – Sagarmala Project, SDC, CEZ, etc.

Sustainable port development promises blue economy to bloom


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Sustainable coast management


  • It is politically hard, but developmentally critical, to run port development projects with coastal management sustainably.

portWhat is a port?

  • A port is a maritime facility comprising one or more wharves or loading areas, where ships load and discharge cargo and passengers. Although usually situated on a sea coast or estuary, ports can also be found far inland, such as Hamburg, Manchester and Duluth; these access the sea via rivers or canals.

What is meant by port management?

  • A port management analysis involves an understanding of the port conditions, including intra-port distribution, and routes and hinterland connections outside the port.

Why ports are important?

  • Ports infrastructure is key to the development of any nation. India has a coastline spanning about 7,500 km. around 90 percent of India’s external trade by volume and 70 percent by value are handled by ports.

portWhat are concerns with port projects?

  • Displacement: Some 350 families that have lost homes to coastal erosion last year, and those living in makeshift schools and camps are just a foretaste of things to come if coastal erosion and extreme cyclones continue unabated.
  • Ecological impact: A further danger is an irreversibly destroyed ecology, triggering deadlier hazards of nature. Ports without adequate safeguards in a highly delicate ecology unleash destruction on marine life and the livelihoods of the local population.
  • Coastal erosion: Visakhapatnam and Chennai show how siltation, coastal erosion and accretion can be exacerbated by deepening of harbour channels in ecologically sensitive areas.
  • Oil spills: During the operation of ports, spillage or leakages from the loading and unloading of cargo and pollution from oil spills are common due to poor adherence to environmental laws and standards.
  • Ecosystem threat: The water discharged during the cleaning of a ship and the discharge of ballast water is a threat to marine ecosystems
  • Impact on fisheries: Dredging cause’s environmental problems (increased sedimentation) affecting local productivity of the local waters and its fisheries

Value addition example

A just published study shows that during 2006-20, the sea gobbled some 2.62 square kilometres or close to 650 acres from the Thiruvananthapuram coast alone.

portSteps to take

  • Compensation: The first order of business, as in infrastructure projects worldwide, is that the project provides compensation to the displaced people and restores their rights.
  • Reversing marine damage: Second, the gross neglect of the damage to invaluable marine biodiversity must be redressed with an acceptable EIA, including inputs from experts in biology, ecology, and oceanography.
  • Safeguard to place: Third, there needs to be an independent assessment of safeguards that port authorities must put in place as a precondition for any further construction.
  • Blue Economy:Blue Economy as a concept includes all the economic activities related to oceans, seas, and coastal areas and emerges from a need for integrated conservation and sustainability in the management of the maritime domain.

Way forward

  • Master plan: Countries should adopt a National Long-term Mater plan addressing the aspects of smarter, greener, safer sustainable port development and productivity improvement.
  • Planning: Port development and investment should be driven by setting specific and realistic goals, such as building a stable infrastructure focused on reducing trade costs and contribute to achieving sustainable transport.
  • Cooperation of multiple sectors: In order to establish a comprehensive port development master plan, cooperation with financial, environmental, technical, energy, transportation and urban development authorities is essential and must reflect the needs of users, including shippers and shipping lines.


  • To address existing challenges, we should provide research, analysis and technical assistance to help ports and the maritime transport sector especially in developing countries to improve operations and become more sustainable and resilient to crises, including climate change.

Mains question

Q. What do you understand by sustainable port development and port productivity? Discuss the challenges in achieving the same along with way forward.


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