“MoRTHS is completely on target”
“Ministry of Road Transport, Highways and Shipping (MoRTHS) has tackled issues of road safety and undertaken green initiatives compatible with the requirements of efficient and sustainable development in the last two years, ” says one of the best-performing ministers in the Modi cabinet, Nitin Gadkari in an interview with Uday India. Excerpts:
Q.What are your achievements in the last two years?
India has about 52.32 lakh kilometres of road network, which is the second largest in the world; of this, national highways comprise of only 2 per cent of road network (~100,000 KMS) but carry 40 per cent of the traffic. Highway sector is critical for emerging economies such as India due to existing infrastructure gaps and enhanced transportation requirement. In the last two years the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways has focussed on improving the pace of road construction, promoting policies on project implementation and improving transparency through digital initiatives. MoRTHS has also tackled issues of road safety and undertaken green initiatives compatible with the requirements of efficient and sustainable development.
Q.You have talked of developing inland water transport system. What is the budget for it and how will you achieve it?
India has immense potential for maritime transport – the country has a vast coastline of over 7500 km with 12 Major Ports and more than 180 Non-Major Ports that carry nearly 95 per cent of India’s trade volume. India also has an extensive network of inland waterways in the form of rivers, canals, backwaters and creeks with total navigable length of 14,500 km. The Ministry of Shipping, over the last two years, have focussed on harnessing the potential of the maritime sector in India through identifying greenfield ports, driving modernization & capacity enhancement of the existing ports, introducing policy changes in ports, shipping, shipbuilding, ship repair, sector, inland water transport and adjacent sectors, enabling connectivity improvement through multimodal transport. The budget will be of Rs 4.12 lakh crore. The profit from ports is Rs 6,000 crore this year. Next year it should be Rs 8,000 crore. In five years the profit will be to the tune of Rs 50,000 crore. The FDs (fixed deposits) are lying in banks. We are banking on these deposits, investments and loans. If we take a loan of 15 years on 2¬2.5 per cent then easily we will get Rs 50,000 crore.
Q.Tell us in brief about the initiatives you have taken for developing Sagarmala Project?
The Sagarmala Programme has been launched by the Government of India to promote port-led development in the country. As part of the Sagarmala Programme, a National Perspective Plan for the comprehensive development of India’s coastline and maritime sector has been approved & adopted by the National Sagarmala Apex Committee on April 9, 2016 and released at the Maritime India Summit 2016, on April 14, 2016, by the Hon’ble Prime Minister.
As part of the National Perspective Plan, April 2016, more than 150 projects have been identified, at an estimated infrastructure investment of Rs. 4 lakh crore, across the areas of Port Modernisation & New Port Development, Port Connectivity Enhancement, Port-led Industrial Development and Coastal Community Development.
Q.You have big plans for modernisation of ports and big vision for building international standard ports in India and abroad too. Give us a brief idea on this project.
Five new mega ports have been identified to add around 460 MTPA of cargo handling capacity in India. The ports are Sagar Port, Durgarajpatnam Port, Outer Harbour of Paradip Port in the East coast of the country and Enayam Port, Vadhavan Port in the West coast.
Enayam near Colachel in Tamil Nadu which will act as a major gateway container port for Indian cargo that is presently trans-shipped outside the country. This port will also act as a trans-shipment hub for the global East-West trade route. 50 port modernization and capacity enhancement projects worth Rs 33,500 crores have been identified in the existing ports under Sagarmala. 12 projects were taken up under Sagarmala in FY 2015-16 at a total cost of Rs. 870 crore. Ten projects have been approved and Rs. 96.51 crore have been released. The remaining 2 projects are under various stages of approval. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding on May 06, 2015 between the Government of Iran and the Government of India to develop Chabahar Port in Iran. From the Indian perspective, this represents a gateway into Afghanistan and Central Asia. Also ‘India Ports Global Pvt Ltd. (IPGPL)’, a Joint Venture between Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and Kandla Port Trust, is planning to invest in the Paira Port in Bangladesh.
Q.How are you going to develop port-road and port-rail connectivity?
To enhance the port-connectivity to country’s production and consumption centres, more than 80 projects have been proposed at an investment of more than Rs. 2 lakh crore. This includes last mile road and rail-connectivity infrastructure to the ports, freight expressways, heavy haul rail project to transport coal, new pipelines for transporting crude and petroleum products and new multi-modal logistics hubs. In order to provide efficient rail evacuation systems to Major Ports and thereby enhance their handling capacity a company namely Indian Port Rail Corporation Ltd. (IPRCL) has been incorporated under the Companies Act, 2013, with equity participation from 11 Major Ports and Rail Vikas Nigam Limited (RVNL). The company since its inception has taken up 25 last mile rail connectivity projects covering 9 major ports. Out of these 25 projects, 14 projects (having total estimated cost of Rs. 10718.22 crore) are for preparation of DPR and 11 projects (having total estimated cost of Rs. 604.24 crore) are for PMC. Out of 11 projects, tender has already been awarded for 4 projects.
Q.What are other policy initiatives by your ministry?
We have started many policy initiatives in last two years. Few of them are :
Project E- Port (Ease of Doing Business)
The Ministry has chalked out an action plan Project e-Port with various activities such as establishment of single window clearance system, gate automation, integration of ICES-PCS-CFS-Terminal, Direct Port Delivery, E-delivery Orders, E-Payment, Installation of Container Scanners, implementation of RFID etc.
Project Green Port
Ministry of Shipping has initiated green port initiatives covering both environmental issues and Swach Bharat Abhiyaan.
The Government of India is working on an ambitious plan to build One Smart City within the port community at the country’s 12 major ports, at an estimated total investment of Rs.50,000 crore. The land bank of Kandla Port and Paradip Port is to
be used to develop Smart Industrial Port City (SIPC).
Q.What further initiatives have you taken with regard to Ministry of Shipping?
To promote domestic shipbuilding industry Ministry of Shipping has undertaken a host of policy related initiatives.
Financial assistance for Indian shipyards
Financial assistance to be provided to Indian shipyards equal to 20 per cent of the lower of the “Contract Price” or the “Fair Price” (as assessed by three international valuers) of each vessel built by the shipyards for a period of at least ten years commencing from 2015-16. The final guidelines have been submitted for approval.
Revision of domestic eligibility criteria
Criteria has been revised to ensure that all the government departments or governmental agencies such as CPSUs procuring vessels for governmental purposes or for own purposes shall undertake bulk tendering for their vessel related requirements with deliveries starting from 2017-2018 with a Right of First Refusal (RoFR) for Indian shipyards and shall ensure that from 2025 onwards, only Indian-built vessels are procured for governmental purpose or for own purpose.
Parity between indigenously built ships and imported ships
Government has exempted Customs and Central Excise duty on inputs used in manufacture of ships to provide a level playing field between indigenously built ships vis-à-vis imported ships.
Ease of Doing Business for Indian shipyards.
Government has relaxed the limitation to operate shipyards under customs control under Section 65 of the Customs Act, 1962 to avail duty free imports or domestic procurement of inputs used in shipbuilding. ■