Emphasising the need to promote investments in inland waterways, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said good transport infrastructure is critical to making growth process more inclusive.
"In inland waterways we need to promote investments, particularly in the remote areas of our country, like in the north east," Singh said at the valedictory function to mark the Golden Jubilee celebrations of the Shipping Corporation of India in Mumbai.
"A good transport infrastructure is critical not only for increasing the pace of our economic development but also for making our growth processes more inclusive," he said.
"We should look seriously at coastal shipping and inland waterways as environment friendly and fuel efficient modes of transport for optimising the overall logistics cost and reaching the hinterland," he said.
There was a need to accelerate the pace of expansion of the port sector, especially through public-private partnerships, he said.
"We also need to improve the draught in our ports by increasing the pace of dredging," the Prime Minister said.
"There is also a need for seamless integration of various models of transport and therefore for the coordinated development of the shipping industry, land-based logistics and the port sector," Singh said.
Much greater attention needs to be paid to ensuring good road and rail connectivity to ports, especially the new minor ports coming up in the private sector, he said.
"We have set up the National Transport Development Policy Committee under the chairmanship of Dr Rakesh Mohan, and I am confident that the Committee will provide useful suggestions on these issues," the Prime Minister said.
Lauding the role played by the SCI in India's maritime domain, the Prime Minister said, "In this half century, the SCI has transformed itself from a small shipping line to the largest shipping company of our country and also a Navratna Public Sector Enterprise."
It would be no exaggeration to say that the growth of India’s merchant marine sector has been led by the SCI which has been instrumental in establishing a significant Indian presence in the global maritime arena, he said.
"I find it particularly commendable that apart from being the largest, the SCI is also the most diversified Indian shipping company operating in varied shipping sectors and carrying a wide range of cargo such as oil, coal, iron ore, grains, gas, steel and containers," he said.
Noting that the SCI has been a pioneer in several areas, the Prime Minister said: "It is the only Indian shipping company providing long haul container services to international markets and to have ventured into the highly specialised area of LNG transportation, in joint ventures with leading international shipping companies."
"Human resource is one of the vital ingredients for successful operations and growth of any industry. With its training initiatives, the SCI has contributed greatly to the growth of India’s maritime sector by creating a pool of maritime talent," Singh said.
Indian seafarers have played an important role in India gaining recognition as a maritime country," he said.