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Published on: March 8, 2021, 8:34 a.m.
A vision for making India a great maritime nation
  • Making India a leading ship-building nation by 2030 was one of the highlights of the Summit

By Hemang Palan

Virtual Maritime India Summit 2021 concluded on 4 March 2021. The three-day maritime conference was one of the biggest virtual maritime summits of the world. Apart from foreign maritime companies, Indian shipping companies and leading maritime associations of India like the Maritime Union of India and Maritime Association of Ship-owners Ship-managers & Agents participated actively in the summit. 

The summit was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. In his inaugural address, he said, “Through this Maritime India Summit, I want to invite the world to come to India and be a part of our growth trajectory. India is serious about growing in the maritime sector and emerging as a leading Blue Economy of the world. Our leading focus areas include: Upgrade current infrastructure. Create next-generation infrastructure. Boost the reform journey. Through these steps, we aim to give strength to our vision of Atmanirbhar Bharat.”

“Like all other sectors, we are ensuring that work relating to the maritime sector does not happen in silos,” he added. “We recently made the ambit wider by renaming the Ministry of Shipping as Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways. The ministry will strive for excellence in: Maritime shipping and navigation, Education and training for the mercantile marine, Ship-building and ship-repair industry, Ship-breaking, Fishing vessels industry and floating craft industry”.

In his key note address of Chabahar day Session on the concluding day of the summit, Mansukh Mandaviya, Minister of Ports, Shipping and Waterways of India, said that Chabahar Port project will be developed as a transit hub for cross connectivity between the India and Eurasia, and further added that Chabahar Port handled 123 vessels and total 13,752 TEUs and 1.8 million tonnes of bulk/general cargo. Chabahar Port has also emerged as the ‘connecting point’ for the region to deliver humanitarian assistance during the Covid-19 pandemic, added Mandaviya. He reiterated the importance of the maritime sector and said, “The 21st century will not belong to land; it will be a century of the seas, skies and space”. 

In the Valedictory Session of Maritime India Summit-2021, Sanjay Bandopadhyaya, additional secretary, Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways, briefed about the summit and added that about 190,000 delegates registered for the summit, 16 international ministers from 11 nations joined different sessions of the summit. Six Union ministers, chief ministers of three states and two state ministers too participated in these sessions. And 55 CEOs, including 31 of foreign shipping companies, participated in the CEO’s forum. Also, 110 exhibitors participated in the summit, which had 18 pavilions and 107 booths. The summit witnessed 5,540 B2B meetings. Over 64,000 people visited the virtual summit during three days during 2-4 March 2021. 

“Maritime India Summit 2021 will empower and strengthen Maritime India Vision 2030, which was launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the inauguration of the summit,” said Mandaviya, in his concluding remark. “Due to MIS 2021, the expectations and the aspirations of the world towards India have increased. We have to keep marching towards achieving our goal. MoUs signed during the summit should borne successful outcome with our dedicated and focussed efforts”. His address ended with an optimism, when he said: “Atmanirbhar Maritime Sector would be foundation of the New India and Atmanirbhar India” 

One of the key highlights of the maritime summit was unveiling of Maritime India Vision 2030 by the PM – a 10-year blueprint with an aim of overhauling the Indian maritime sector. This mega vision maritime document prepared by the government of India envisages Rs3 lakh crore investments in various port projects that, in turn, promise to generate employment for over 2 million people.

Maritime India Vision 2030 also unlocks annual revenue potential for major ports estimated at about Rs20,000 crore. Rs1-1.25 lakh crore worth investments were planned in augmenting the infrastructure of major ports, which would help in creating 700,000-10 lakh jobs. The plans envisaged include:

• develop mega capacity ports in high potential areas of Gujarat, Maharashtra and Odisha-West Bengal cluster at an investment of over Rs80,000 crore; 

• increase the trans-shipment volumes of Indian cargo at Indian ports from ~25 per cent (in 2020) to more than 75 per cent by 2030 by operationalisation of Vizhinjam port and development of trans-shipment zone in Kanyakumari and Champbell Bay; 

• undertake initiatives to enhance Ease of Doing Business;

• implement Enterprise Business System (EBS) to simplify and digitise processes across Major Ports by 2021; 

• develop a National Marine Logistics Portal to implement 100 per cent paperless processes including online payment; 

• implement the unified ship e-registration portal;

• give impetus to port-led industrialisation to generate revenue of over Rs10,000 crore for major ports, while generating a cost savings of about Rs20,000 crore;

• establish an investor outreach and marketing cell, development of plug and play infrastructure, as also development of a digital land portal;

• shift from road/rail to costal shipping and generate cost savings of about Rs10,000 crore; 

• develop green sustainable ports;

• aim to increase the share of renewable energy to over 60 per cent by 2030, from current levels of less than 10 per cent;

• promote ‘waste to wealth’ through sustainable dredging and domestic ship recycling;

• reach the target of Zero Accident Ports by 2022; 

• promote philosophy of ‘Make in India’, ‘Make for the world’ and become a leading ship building country;

• become a leading ship building nation by 2030 through 15x+ increase in the gross tonnage of ships built in India;

• set up a maritime development fund to provide low cost, long-term funding to maritime sector stakeholders; 

• enhance cruise infrastructure by developing dedicated cruise terminals at 12 selected ports;

• promote five themes for cruise tourism – pilgrim, heritage, ayurvedic & wellness, island tourism and regional international circuit (India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand);

• incentivise global cruise liners to make India their home port

• strengthen the maritime institutions to enhance India’s training and development capabilities on a par with global standards (this would also help in increasing India’s share of seafarers from 12 per cent at present to 20 per cent in the near future);

• prioritise development of 23 national waterways with maximum potential in Phase 1, increasing the cargo movement from 73 million tpa to over 200 million tpa;

• develop eastern waterways’ connectivity transport grid for enhancing regional connectivity and reducing cost of transportation from Bangladesh, Nepal, Bhutan and Myanmar;

• develop river cruise tourism infrastructure and offerings;

• develop water-dromes at 16 identified tourist locations; 

• develop of river cruise terminals and jetties on over five national waterways; 

• integrate river and sea cruise tourism to increase the offerings;

• undertake initiatives to develop waterways for urban transportation, thereby decongesting cities and aim to increase annual passengers from 700 million from the present traffic of 140 million people;

• integrate metro train network with waterway ferry terminals in Kochi;

• develop waterways of Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa on a priority basis;

• promote private sector’s participation to develop marine landscape of the country;

• shift towards landlord model at major ports and increase the cargo handled at major ports by PPP/other operators to more than 85 per cent vs 51 per cent in 2020;

• attract involvement of private sector in development and operations of ferry and RoRo terminals, etc.

A boost to economy

“Maritime India Vision 2030 has laid a blue print of increasing the global share of Indian seafarers to over 20 per cent in the near future. It’s indeed going to bolster the maritime economy of the country. Also, the move will attract young Indian workforce to join merchant navy in the years to come,” said Amar Singh Thakur, general secretary, The Maritime Union of India, India’s oldest union of merchant navy officers.

“The impetus to increase job opportunities for Indian maritime workforce in Maritime India Vision 2030 document will also boost the growth of India’s buoyant crew manning industry,” says Mahendra Bhasin, chairman, The Maritime Association of Ship-owners, Ship-managers and Agents, India’s apex shipping body. “Also, the formation of an ‘inter-ministerial group’ of officers by Indian Shipping Ministry to deal with potential maritime piracy situations arising out of any hijacking at sea of merchant vessels with Indian crew is indeed a huge relief for maritime enterprises operating in India.”

The virtual Maritime India Summit 2021 also pledged to increase usage of renewable energy to more than 60 per cent of total energy by 2030 in three phases across Indian ports. During the summit, the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways of India focussed on the motto: “Invest in our ports. Invest in our people”. 

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