Rs 1,00,000 Cr Sagar Mala Project Proposed To Be Funded By 5 Paise Maritime Cess

New Delhi, Nov 6: | Updated: Nov 7 2003, 05:30am hrs
The government plans to impose a 5 paise maritime development cess for a period of 10 years for part funding the Rs 1,00,000-crore Sagar Mala project announced by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Independence Day. The cess is likely to be imposed from the second year of the project at the rate of 5 paise per kilogram of cargo passing through ports.

The government will also be setting up a development authority on the lines of National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) to channelise budgetary support and implement projects assigned to it.

An empowered committee headed by shipping secretary DT Joseph and with representatives from Planning Commission and ministries of finance, commerce and environment is also proposed to be set up. It will be vested with powers to evaluate and approve investment proposal up to Rs 500 crore.

The Sagar Mala project will cover ports, shipping sector and coastal shipping, inland water transportation and other issues related to the maritime sector. In the first phase, the project involves integrated development of Nhava Sheva and Kochi ports at a cost of Rs 7,500 crore.

A crucial meeting with representatives from all maritime states was held under the chairmanship of Mr Joseph on Thursday for giving shape to the project.

The meeting was called for getting views of various stake holders in the project and was attended by 60 officials from major ports, state maritime boards, Inland Waterways Authority of India and shipping industry.

Senior officials said that a Cabinet note for approval of the project would be finalised after taking into account the suggestions which came up during the meeting. About 28 projects have so far been suggested to be taken up under the programme, said a senior official.

An outline of the programme has been drawn out by the ministry for being put up to the Cabinet. The outline has noted that there will be private-Government partnership in the projects implementation with the private sector accounting for the bulk of the funding.

Public investment in the project comprising budgetary support and internal and extra budgetary resources of ports, shipyards and the public undertakings under the shipping ministry is expected at the level of about 15 per cent of the project cost and the balance is expected to be raised through private investment.

The Sagar Mala Development Authority (SMDA) will be involved in setting up of new projects, formation of special purpose vehicles and other organisational structure for developing minor ports and providing connectivity besides development and maintenance of national sea waterways.

The draft proposal for the project says that an investment of Rs 55,000 crore will be made in the port sector most of which will be through private sector participation including foreign direct investment.

While investment of Rs 15,000 crore in the shipping sector over the next 10 years is expected to come entirely from private equity, ship building will involve a budgetary support of Rs 2,000 crore for public sector shipyards and Rs 9,500 crore from internal accruals of private investment including FDI.