90% of India’s international trade by volume moves through maritime transport. The ministry of shipping, through its Maritime Agenda 2010-20, has chalked out a blue-print to increase its port capacity, increase tonnage and coastal shipping while facilitating a hassle-free multi-modal transport. Secretary, Shipping, K Mohandas spoke to HT’s Debobrat Ghose on various issues.
The Maritime Agenda has set investment targets of Rs 2.87 lakh crore and Rs 1.65 lakh crore in the port and shipping sectors respectively. What will be the source of funding?
Currently, the total port capacity in India is over 1,000 million metric tonnes, which will be increased to 3,200 million metric tonnes in a ratio of 50:50 for major and non-major ports over a period of 10 years.
More investment is expected in the non-major ports sector. More than 80% of the investments will be made by the private sector. It has been decided by the government that ports development projects should be based on public-private-partnership (PPP) model and a bulk of the investments will come through this route. The port sector has the investors’ confidence.
Comparatively, achieving the shipping sector’s target is difficult. The plan is to increase India’s gross tonnage from the present 10 million tonnes to 43 million tonnes by 2020.
Shipping being a global activity, there’s no incentive in flagging ships in India. We’ll be able to attract investment in this sector by bringing changes through fiscal policy measures.
What is the status of the proposal for setting up of an investment agency called Indian Ports Global?
Indian Ports Global has been conceived as an agency, which will largely promote the ports abroad in India’s interest. The structuring of the agency is under process and is expected to be complete by the year-end.
There will be equity contribution from Indian ports and investments would be made as and when required. There are many private Indian companies, who are looking at ports abroad, as they are setting up factories and are into mining there.
As per the maritime agenda, how are you planning to increase India’s share of seafarers to 9% of the global strength by 2015?
At present, this number is 6% to 7%. The increase will be achieved by enhancing the training capacity, especially on-board training. The director-general, shipping, is working out a model to increase the share.
What is the status of the Ports Regulatory Bill?
A draft was prepared and was put on our website for feedback from our stakeholders. Some of the states have opposed it on the grounds of tariff fixation by non-major ports. It is under consultation with state governments.
The ministry has set a target for the Indian ship-building industry of 5% of the global market by 2017. How are you planning to achieve it?
Currently, it is just above 1%. Logistically, India is an appropriate place for ship-building, with a huge potential. The subsidy scheme in this sector was discontinued in 2007.
Our proposal for a subsidy is lying pending before the finance ministry, which will help us to compete globally.