India Poised for Blue Revolution, to Create 20 Mn Jobs: Gadkari

Namita Tewari/Mumbai
India Poised for Blue Revolution, to Create 20 Mn Jobs: Gadkari

With India's unmatched potential on sea and river front, the government is determined to give a big push to 'blue revolution' which has potential to create over 20 million jobs, Union Minister Nitin Gadkari today said.

"India is on the brink of a 'blue revolution'. Its unmatched sea and river front remained untapped ever since Independence. Now the time is ripe to exploit it and with the Narendra Modi government committed to develop it, we are going to do things that will be beyond imagination," Gadkari told PTI in an interview.

Enthused with the success of the maiden Maritime Summit with commitments worth USD 12 billion on the spot and another USD 60 billion in the pipeline, the minister said apart from the potential of 10 million jobs under Sagarmala, more than 10 million could be easily created in shipping, highways and other sectors.

"Creating jobs is our focus and immense employment opportunities are there in ports, roads and sectors like shipping. What I believe is that apart from 10 million potential jobs under Sagarmala, shipping, port, manufacturing are going to create another over 10 million jobs," said the Shipping, Road Transport and Highways Minister.

He said his government's faith to usher in revolutionary changes in the sector multiplied manifold after signing of business agreements worth over USD 12 billion in only two days during the Maritime Summit here on April 14 and 15.

"As many as 240 projects worth USD 60 billion are in the pipeline to be formalised soon," the minister said adding, all great civilisations of the world prospered around rivers and sea and at present also waterways play a crucial role in all the leading economies.

"India has unmatched over 7,500 km coastline and over 14,000 km of inland waterways. We are working towards leveraging the huge potential offered by our sea and river fronts," he said.

Waterways will not only become a dominant way of transport but is bound to bring down the high logistics costs, he said and added that plans were on the anvil to not only internally harness the potential but pacts are being signed with neighbouring nations like Bangladesh to tap this mode.

"We are going to set up eight new major ports in the country and are going to spend Rs 50,000 crore on three new ports only that include a greenfield port at Vadhavan, Maharashtra and phase one of it would be constructed at a cost of about Rs 9,167 crore," he said.

The other two are Colachel in Tamil Nadu and Sagar in West Bengal, he said.

"Investors are welcome to come and join hands with us and we in turn would provide them level playing fields and sops," Gadkari said.

"Maritime logistics is an important component of the Indian economy accounting for 90 per cent of EXIM trade by volume and 72 per cent by value. The cargo volume of 1 billion tonne handled by our ports is likely to more than double to 2.5 billion in the next ten years," Gadkari said.

Providing details of the projects signed during the summit, he said these cover a wide spectrum of activities including modernisation and expansion of ports, development of waterways, improving hinterland connectivity of ports and upgradation of training facilities in the maritime sector.

To give a boost to waterways, Andhra Pradesh government has signed a pact with Inland Waterways Authority of India for developing National Waterways 4 at a cost of about Rs 3,000 crore, he added.

Gujarat Maritime Board has also entered a pact with Shapoorji Pallonji company for developing a new LNG terminal worth Rs 5,411 crore at Chara.

Visakhapatnam Port Trust inked a pact with HPCL to increase the capacity of Visakha refinery to 15 million tonne from 7.5 million tonne at an estimated cost of Rs 18,412 crore.

At the same time, Gadkari stressed that private sector shipyards would also be assisted financially and ministry through Cochin Shipyard has planned allotting a chunk of Rs 75,000 crore orders including Rs 50,000 crore from Defence Ministry to them.

"We will outsource work to private sector shipyards through Cochin Shipyard in order to provide much needed oxygen to them," he said.

Under Sagarmala, investments worth Rs 12 lakh crore have been lined up and the project is bound to bring down the logistics cost to 10 per cent from 18 per cent thereby making Indian goods competitive, he said.

Sagarmala is a port-led economic development project for coastal areas.

Inaugurating the maiden global maritime summit on April 14, the Prime Minister said his government would mobilise Rs 1 trillion investment in ports sector over the next decade and promised to personally handhold investors for a "safe, secure and satisfactory" berthing so as to transform the country's 7,500-km-long coastline to an "engine of growth".

Modi also said the government would work towards more than doubling the port capacity to 3 billion tonnes by 2025.

India has 12 major ports - Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of the country's total cargo traffic.

Besides, the country has about 200 ports under the control of states.

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