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To boost port connectivity and promote port-led developments in the country, the Indian government is spearheading the ambitious Sagarmala project. India has a vast coastline of over 7,500 kilometres and navigable waterways spanning 14,500 kilometres. This ambitious programme is aimed at modernising the country’s port infrastructure, while giving a boost to the economy.
Sagarmala project objectives
The Sagarmala project is a flagship initiative by the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. The project received approval from the union cabinet on March 25, 2015.
The main objective of this initiative is the integrated development of all maritime-related activities, by harnessing the country’s coastline and navigable waterways and boosting the performance of the logistics sector. It will provide infrastructure to facilitate quick transportation of goods to and from the ports. The vision of the Sagarmala project is to reduce the logistics costs for domestic and EXIM (export-import) and cargo through infrastructure investment.
The programme involves a series of projects categorised under port-connectivity, freight expressways, new pipelines for transportation of crude and petroleum products, coastal community development, development of prioritised inland waterways and new multi-modal logistics hubs.
See also: All you need to know about India’s national waterways
The four pillars of Sagar mala project
The key focus areas or the four pillars of the Sagarmala project are:
- Port modernisation, which involves capacity augmentation and development of new ports.
- Port connectivity, comprising connectivity to new roads or railways, up-gradation of roads or railways, coastal shipping, inland water transport and logistics parks.
- Port-led industrialisation, encompassing the development of industrial clusters, coastal employment zones, maritime clusters, smart industrial port cities and port-based SEZs.
- Coastal community development, including skill development, coastal tourism projects, development of fishing harbours and fish processing centres.
For implementing the programme, the Sagarmala Development Company (SDC) has been constituted, which will serve as a nodal agency and provide equity support for various special purpose vehicles (SPVs) set up for the projects. It will also be responsible for providing funding window for residual projects and preparing detailed master plans for the Coastal Economic Zones (CEZs) identified under a National Perspective Plan (NPP).
Sagarmala project cost
For implementing the Sagarmala project, state governments would set up state-level Sagarmala committees that would be headed by the chief minister or the minister in charge of ports. The identified projects under the Sagarmala programme would be taken up by the relevant ports, central ministries, state governments or maritime boards, through private or public-private partnership (PPP) model. Under this mega project, over 574 projects have been identified under the four components of the Sagarmala scheme, for implementation during 2015-2035, with a total budget of around Rs six lakh crores.
Sagarmala project: Timeline
|August 2003||Project announced by the then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee.|
|March 2015||The project gets cabinet approval.|
|July 2015||Indian Port Rail Corporation Limited (IPRCL) gets incorporated for implementing the programme.|
|April 2016||NPP released by the PM.|
|September 2016||Government announces the incorporation of the Sagarmala Development Company.|
Understanding the impact of the Sagarmala project
The Sagarmala project is aimed at addressing the present situation of the country’s ports infrastructure. There is lack of proper connectivity in the hinterland and inadequate infrastructure facilities, leading to increased cost of transportation and cargo movement.
By providing improved connectivity to the ports and integrated with the development of inland waterways, the Sagarmala project is expected to reduce the cost and time required for transportation of goods. This will give a significant boost to the industries and export-import trade in the country.
This infrastructure project is also expected to give a major push to job creation. In 2019, the government said that the Sagarmala project resulted in the creation of around 10,000 jobs over a period of three years. It also said that it could lead to the creation of one crore new jobs, including 40 lakh direct jobs, over the next 10 years.
See also: All about the Bharatmala Pariyojana
Sagarmala project: Latest news
Presently, there are 505 projects taken up for port modernisation, port connectivity, port-led industrialisation and coastal community development under the Sagarmala programme, at a cost of Rs 3,56,648 crores.
In 2019, the government had announced the development of a National Grid for Ports that would connect the major and minor ports. It would boost the efficiency of port operations and sustained development of ports. As many as 121 projects were completed at a cost of Rs 30,228 crores, as of September 2019.
In March 2021, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that India was planning to invest $82 billion in port projects by 2035, increase the share of clean renewable energy sources in the maritime sector, develop waterways, augment seaplane services and boost tourism around lighthouses. He further said that the ports ministry had prepared a list of 400 investable projects, having an investment potential of $31 billion. It would further strengthen India’s commitment to the overall development of the maritime sector.
Highlighting on improving efficiency, the prime minister said that the capacity of major ports, which was 870 million tonnes in 2014, had increased to around 1,550 MT per annum. The government said it also plans to operationalise 23 waterways by 2030 and focus on encouraging private investment in the ports sector.
How many ports are there in India?
There are 13 major ports and over 200 notified minor and intermediate ports in India.
What is a coastal economic zone?
Coastal economic zones are designated coastal areas, comprising of a group of coastal districts or districts with a strong linkage to the ports, with special economic regulations. The government plans to develop 14 CEZs in eight states, for promoting port-led industrialisation under the project.