As many as 160 projects with investment of Rs 71,000 cr are lined up for implementation in the ongoing fiscal.
The ongoing fiscal year (FY19) is going to be critical as far as the Union government’s ambitious Sagarmala programme is concerned. With the aim of reducing the backlog of projects in the coming years, the Centre has more than doubled the number of projects to be implemented in FY19 to 160 from 69 in the preceding year, entailing an investment of Rs 71,000 crore, as against Rs 27,185 crore in FY18.
Under the programme, the Centre is aiming to augment the capacity of the country’s major and minor ports to 3,500 MT by 2025 from 1,065 MT at present. Sagarmala also entails implementation of rail, road, inland waterway, and coastal shipping projects, besides creation of SEZs and skill development of local population. These are expected to create over 1.5 lakh jobs.
Highlighting the rationale for the high target this year, KK Agarwal, joint secretary, shipping, points at the lower number of projects scheduled for FY20: 66 projects that would cost `52,515.01 crore. Of the 580 projects costing `8.04 trn under Sagarmala, 59 projects worth `11,299 cr have been completed so far. As many as 162 projects worth `1,69,786 crore are under implementation while 48 projects worth `11,082 crore are at the tendering stage, he says. Detailed project reports (DPRs) for another 79 projects costing `33,962 crore have been prepared, while DPRs for 68 projects worth `60,388 crore are under preparation. That leaves out 164 projects costing `51,785 crore for which DPRs are yet to be prepared, Agarwal says.
Although a number of new port projects have been planned, overall capacity addition at the existing ports has been pegged at 980 MT. As for roads and railway lines to be built for better port connectivity, the figures are 8,879 km and 4,271 km, respectively, the official says.
Among the projects seeing speedy implementation are those concerning the Paradip port where 1823 acres of industrial area, 2,325 acres of township area and 2,137 acres of port area are to be integrated under a smart city project. While the Paradip Port Trust has geared up to implement its `8,500 crore expansion plan of constructing 12 additional berths, the Boston Consultancy Group has been discussing with more than 28 players investment in the planned industrial area. Among them are the Indian Oil Corporation which has committed to investing `52,000 crore.
Not far away from Paradip is the Kolkata Port Trust’s Haldia Dock Complex, which until recently was witnessing talk of closure owing to draught constraints. It is now constructing three outer terminals—Outer terminal 1 for dry bulk cargo, Outer terminal 2 to handle liquid bulk cargo and a barge jetty outside the port’s lock gate to increase its capacity to handle ships.
The barge jetty is being constructed keeping in mind the full operationalisation of the Haldia-Varanasi inland waterway route which would allow vessels of up to 2,000-tonne capacity to navigate along the Ganges. Construction of multimodal terminals at Haldia, Sahibganj and Varanasi are on the verge of completion as part of the `4,200-crore project.
Although shipping ministry officials say mobilising resources wouldn’t be a problem and there had been enough budgetary support, official statistics reveal that from FY16 to March, 2018, `825 crore had been released for 64 projects costing `4,121 cr, as against the sanctioned `1,302 crore. It is this issue of resource mobilisation that ratings agency ICRA has flagged vis-a-vis what is no doubt an ambitious programme.