Mumbai: India, with a 7,500-km long coastline, is set for a gigantic leap in maritime sector with water-based trade, commercial and transport activities, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Thursday.
Inaugurating the first Maritime India Summit (MIS) 2016 here, Modi said it was the government's endeavour to revive and restore India's position of eminence in the global maritime sector with gen-next infrastructure in ports, shipping and allied sectors.
"I must mention that our vast coastline of 7500 km offers a huge investment opportunity. Apart from the length of the coastline, India's maritime potential also lies in its strategic location on all major shipping highways," Modi said.
Besides, India has an expansive and productive hinterland through which flows a network of mighty rivers. The country's maritime agenda will complement this ambitious infrastructure plan for the hinterland which is going on in parallel, he added.
Accordingly, the country has initiated many measures under 'Make In India' to make the country a global manufacturing hub, corrections in the Ease of Doing Business, simplifications in cross-border trade processes, and liberal licensing regimes including defence sector and ship-building.
The government has also taken 60 percent of defence items out of licensing process, most FDI sectors have been put on automatic approval route and shipyards have got infrastructure status on par with ports.
Additionally, rebate of service tax on coastal shipping has been hiked to 70 percent and many exemptions have been granted on customs and central excise duties on inputs used in ship-building.
Financial assistance has been provided to promote the sector, exemption in customs and central excise has been given on bunker fuel for Indian flagged container ships, seafarers tax issues have been resolved while the Indian Port Rail Corp will focus on the last-mile port connectivity.
All these have led to FDI inflows going up by 44 percent in past two years, with 2015-16 seeing the highest ever FDI inflow into India, Modi said.
The highest ever cargo quantity handled by major ports was in 2015, he said. Port efficiency parameters had shown very good improvement and the fastest average turnaround time was notched in 2015.
The Kandla Port in Gujarat breached the 100 million traffic landmark with 20 percent improved efficiency, the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust clocked a net profit of Rs.10 billion helped by a 12 percent increase in efficiency, and the Shipping Corp of India, Dredging Corp of India and Cochin Shipyard Ltd had registered higher profits compared to the previous year, he said.
In past two years, under the National Perspective Plan of Sagarmala Programme, 56 new projects worth Rs.250 billion were awarded to create additional port capacity of 317 million tonnes per year.
"Our vision is to increase port capacity from 1,400 million tonnes to 3,000 million tonnes by 2025. We want to mobilize an investment of one lakh crore, or one trillion rupees, in the Port Sector to enable this growth," Modi said.
Five new ports were planned to meet the increasing demand of the Exim trade which will rise in proportion with the fast-growing Indian economy, and new ports were also being developed by several coastal states.
The Maritime India Summit will showcase to a global audience sectors like existing port development and modernization of berths and terminals, Greenfield ports, port-led development, shipbuilding, repairs and breaking, coastal shipping, inland water transport, cruises, lighthouse tourism, hinterland connectivity and logistics handling.
Deals worth over Rs.82,000 crore are expected to be signed during the event in which delegates, CEOs and experts from 41 countries are taking part.