Sagarmala Project: Smart ports for Blue Revolution in India

The Union Cabinet chaired by the Prime Minister Modi, on March,2015 gave its ‘in-principle’ approval for the concept and institutional framework of Sagarmala Project. Let’s take a glance on it.


What’s the prime objective of Sagarmala?

The prime objective of the Sagarmala project is to promote port-led direct and indirect development and to provide infrastructure to transport goods to and from ports quickly, efficiently and cost-effectively.

What’s the current issue and background of ports in India?

  • At present there are around 200 ports (small and big) in the country, of these, only 12 are major ports which are government owned ports, which handle about 58% of sea-borne traffic.
  • These major ports operate as Trusts under the Major Ports Trust Act, 1963, except for the Port of Ennore, which is a company under the Companies Act.
  • There are legacy issues with these govt owned major ports, they do not keep pace with emerging technology, requirements of international trade, emerging trends in containerisation, flexible rules, size of ships etc.

Which are the 12 Major Ports ?

These are Kolkata (including Dock Complex at Haldia), Visakhapatnam, Chennai, V.O. Chidambaranar (Tuticorin), Cochin, New Mangalore, Mormugao, Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT), Mumbai, Kandla and Ennore.


Just, Look back into the history?

In 2003, then PM Vajpayee proposed Project Sagarmala with following features:

  • Setup Sagarmala Development Authority (Similar to National highway authority of India).
  • It will get money via Maritime development cess. (5 paise per kg on cargo).
  • It will improve ports, shipping industry, inland water transport, coastal shipping.
  • PPP and FDI to gather more investment.

Then, which are the Key pillars to achieve Smart-development ?

  • Supporting and enabling Port-led Development through appropriate policy and institutional interventions.
  • Providing for an institutional framework for ensuring inter-agency and states’ collaboration for integrated development.
  • Port Infrastructure Enhancement, including modernization and setting up of new ports.
  • Efficient Evacuation to and from hinterland.

What are some of the measures to make Smart Ports?

  • Ports should be registered as Companies under Companies Act.
  • The port administration should only look after the provisions of infrastructure and safety and not day-to-day running of the port
  • There is still no regulation to control the trade practices.
  • Hence, there is a dire need to introduce a regulatory architecture that takes care of ex-ante declaration of rates of services.

Then, what’s the plan to implement such a vast initiative?

  • For a comprehensive and integrated planning for “Sagarmala”, a National Perspective Plan (NPP) for the entire coastline shall be prepared within six months.
  • It will identify potential geographical regions to be called Coastal Economic Zones (CEZ).
  • While preparing the NPP, synergy and integration with planned Industrial Corridors, Dedicated Freight Corridors, National Highway Development Programme, Industrial Clusters and SEZs would be ensured.

What are the suggestions for effective mechanism at state level?

  • Set up State Sagarmala Committee to be headed by CM / Minister in Charge of Ports.
  • Sagarmala Coordination and Steering Committee (SCSC) shall be constituted under the chairmanship of the Cabinet Secretary and others.
  • This Committee will provide coordination between ministries, state governments and agencies connected with implementation and review the progress of implementation of the National Perspective Plan.

How does it ensure the sustainable development in CEZ?

  • This would be done by synergising and coordinating with State Governments and line Ministries of Central Government through their existing programmes.
  • Such as those related to community and rural development, tribal development and employment generation, fisheries, skill development, tourism promotion etc.
  • In order to provide funding for such projects and activities that may be covered by departmental schemes a separate fund by the name ‘Community Development Fund’ would be created.

What’s the role of Institutional Framework ?

  • It has to provide for a coordinating role for the Central Government.
  • It should provide a platform for central, state governments and local authorities to work in tandem and coordination under the established principles of cooperative federalism.

What’s the role of NSAC?

A National Sagarmala Apex Committee (NSAC) is envisaged for overall policy guidance and high level coordination, and to review various aspects of planning and implementation of the plan and projects.

So, Is it Good to have smart ports on the line of Smart Cities?

Can you answer some questions?

#1. Can you examine the bottlenecks in Indian port infrastructure and list the initiative taken in recent times to address this issue?

#Q.2 Indian port infrastructure can be revamped by Sagarmala project by effective management? critically comment.


Published with inputs from Arun
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