In a significant policy reform that is expected to spur growth in the country’s infrastructure sector, the Indian government has approved a proposal to delegate more project approval authority to the Shipping Ministry.
The move follows persistent delays in implementing various public-private partnership projects in the port sector, including new container terminals at major gateway ports.
“The Ministry of Shipping has been experiencing delays in award of PPP projects due to the time taken in completing procedures for approval. The enhanced delegation of financial powers to the ministry will accelerate investment approval to PPP projects,” an official statement said. “Besides, cost escalation due to delays in award of projects could also be avoided.”
The new guidelines come as the ministry launched a $110 billion maritime plan to expand the country’s port capacity to 3.2 billion tons by 2020, from about 1 billion tons now, to cope with the projected growth in cargo volumes.
The ministry plans to award 42 projects under public-private and state-funded developmental schemes during the current fiscal year, which ends March 31, 2013, adding an estimated capacity of about 250 million tons a year.
There are 12 major publicly-owned ports in India, equally spread over the west and east coasts, which cumulatively handled 560 million tons of cargo in fiscal 2011-12, which ended March 31. Container volume totaled 7.77 million 20-foot-equivalent units for the fiscal year.