New Central Scheme to help maritime states develop their ports – G K Vasan.
PPP to be the preferred route for port capacity expansion in the country
The Ministry of Shipping has chalked out an ambitious expansion plan to create additional port capacity in the country. It aims to award 42 projects, of which 29 will be under the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) mode during 2012-13 and the total capacity addition would be 245 million tonnes. Addressing a press conference at the end of the 14th Maritime States Development Council Meeting in Mumbai today, Union Minister for Shipping G K Vasan said, already 17 projects have been awarded till December 31 and the rest would be awarded by the end of March 2013. Most of these projects are for capacity addition, deepening of channels and modernization.
The Government has recently delegated enhanced financial powers to the Ministry of Shipping for approval of PPP projects. Henceforth, only projects costing more than Rs 500 crores would require the approval of Cabinet Committee on Infrastructure. Earlier this limit was Rs 300 crores. The move is expected to accelerate investment approvals and reduce cost escalations linked to project delays.
Mr. Vasan said the capacity of Indian ports – both major and minor, has now crossed 1,200 million tonnes per annum and the Vision Document drawn up by his Ministry envisages three fold capacity increase by 2020. The Minister said, new ports will have to be set up across the Indian coastline and he informed that he has already written to the Chief Ministers of all the maritime states to explore possibilities of setting up new ports. Mr Vasan announced that his Ministry has approved establishment of two new ports – one on the Sagar island of West Bengal and another in Andhra Pradesh.
New Central Scheme to support state maritime boards
The Shipping Minister also announced that a new Central Scheme is being introduced to provide financial assistance to maritime states during the 12th Five Year Plan. The new scheme, among other things, would provide support for capital dredging in state owned non-major ports, build capacity of state maritime boards to combat oil spills and install Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) and other navigational aids in non-major ports.
Addressing the challenge of port connectivity
Speaking about the issue of connectivity to non-major ports, Mr. G K Vasan informed that an Inter Ministerial Group under the chairmanship of Secretary, Shipping has been formed with representatives of Railways, National Highway Authority of India and Inland Waterways Authority of India, to identify gaps in port connectivity and take up appropriate projects. The Minister said the Railways has come out with the policy of privatization of port connectivity projects. “This is a good development and all ports must make best use of this policy change” he said. Non major ports account for nearly 40 per cent of the port capacity.
Port Regulatory Bill shelved
Mr. Vasan also announced that the Government has decided not to pursue the Port Regulatory Bill, in view of reservations expressed by some states.
Minister of State for Shipping, Milind Deora said that the focus has now shifted on improving operational efficiency, productivity and quality of service in India’s port services. He observed, that in leading ports of the world like Singapore, the turn around time for ships is less than a day, while in India, it is still greater than four days. He said it is time to redefine the roles of ports from being mere trade gateways to becoming integrated global logistics and transportation chains.
JNPT NOC soon for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link
Mr.Deora also announced that the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, (JNPT) would soon give its No-Objection Certificate for the construction of the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link connecting the island city with Navi Mumbai. The JNPT, earlier had some reservations about the alignment of the Trans Harbour bridge, in view of its future port expansion plans.
Kanhoji Angre Lighthouse off Colaba to become a tourist spot
Milind Deora also said that a new project is being implemented to develop Light Houses as major tourist attractions. He announced that a decision has been taken to develop the Kanhoji Angre Island Light House, 11 nautical miles south of Colaba as a tourist spot. The island, previously known as Khanderi or Kennery Island, has a 17 meter high octagonal masonry light house, with a fort bastion and canon point. The island had strategic importance for the Portugues, the British and the Marathas, as it commanded entrance of the Mumbai harbour from the South. The Directorate General of Lighthouses & Lightships, which administers the island has entrusted infrastructure firm IL&FS to prepare the feasibility study.
PIB Mumbai / MD