“Ports play a major role in the country’s economic development as 95 per cent of India’s foreign trade by volume and 70 per cent by value are through maritime operations”, said Mr Pon Radhakrishnan, Hon’ble Minister of State for Finance & Shipping, Government of India.

He was speaking at the CII Port Conclave 2018 with the theme ‘Port Led Economic Development’ organised by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) here on Tuesday.

Noting that the country’s economic integration with the world economy is also very crucial, he said that it can happen only with the development of maritime sector in terms of improving infrastructure and efficiency.

He also said, “The Union Government is implementing the Sagarmala programme by identifying as many as 577 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 8.57 lakh crore, to be implemented during 2015-2035”.

He further said that the investments are mostly in areas of port development, port connectivity enhancement and coastal community development. Nearly 490 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 4.25 lakh crore are under various stages of implementation, development and completion.

“Though we have improved the overall efficiency and reduced the turnaround time, we need to raise to the global standards on that count. The port modernisation programme under Sagarmala which will address the issue of reducing logistics cost is key to improving our competitiveness. The government has taken various initiatives in this direction,” he remarked.

Stating that poor logistics eventually contributes to higher cost of doing business and higher prices for goods and services in the economy, he said, “The vision of Sagarmala is to reduce logistics cost for both domestic and Exim cargo with necessary optimised infrastructure investment.”

“Projects like coastal shipping, inland waterways, rail and road connectivity will also reduce the logistic cost as also carbon footprint and contribute towards the green agenda of the country,” he said.

He was emphatical that the Sagarmala programme will also improve the lives of coastal communities by improving infrastructure for traditional livelihoods such as fishing and leveraging the coast and waterways to enable improved transport and access.

He wanted the industries to be actively involved in the Sagarmala project and the Make in India project for achieving the country’s ambitious targets in various spheres.

He also wanted the CII to come out with suggestions for achieving the industrial targets and announced the government’s readiness to act on them.

Mr Kailash Kumar Aggarwal, IAS, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Shipping, Government of India, in his special address, said that 41 PPP projects in the private sector involving an investment of Rs 20,000 crore are in operation having created a capacity of 368 MT.

Sixteen projects entailing an investment of Rs.20,000 crore and 268 MT capacity are under implementation said Mr Aggarwal.

He said that 632 Km of rail lines have been commissioned and additional 1300 Km of rail network is expected to be added by 2020.  Two hundred and sixty six Kms of roads connecting to the ports have already been commissioned and additional 1600 Km of road network is expected to be added by 2020, he further said.

In his welcome address, Mr R Dinesh, Chairman, CII Southern Region & Joint Managing Director, T V Sundram Iyengar & Sons Ltd said, “The Maritime Sector, is expected to grow significantly with the increase in international and domestic trade volumes. Since huge volumes are handled via the maritime route, there is a continuous need to develop India’s ports and trade related infrastructure”.

In his theme address, Mr P Raveendran, Chairman, CII Port Conclave 2018 and Chairman, Port of Chennai and Kamarajar Port Ltd, said that, “all the initiatives of the CII are in line with the Sagarmala project and the concept of port led development is centered around the areas of logistics and the location of industries around the port regions”.

He also said the ports are maintaining record handling of cargo traffic in a cost effective environment, adding that the ports need to follow the best practices from the rest of the world.

Mr Anil Yendluri, Co Chairman, CII Port Conclave 2018 and CEO, Krishnapatnam Port Company Ltd, said the Ministry has done a lot to improve ports across the country as also the turnaround time in terms of logistics.

The CII is working with various stakeholders in tune with the Sagarmala programme that aims to attain the much needed goals in the development of ports and their infrastructure by all reckoning, he remarked.

The two-day event also saw various kinds of deliberations by experts in sessions like: Port Sector Governance, Ease of Doing Business & Cabotage Policies; Cruise Tourism; Evolution of Technologies in Port Sector-Opportunities & the Way Forward; Multi Modal Approach- First Mile & Last Mile Connectivity and Port Led Industrialisation.