India Launches $110 Billion Maritime Plan

India Launches $110 Billion Maritime Plan

India plans to spend an estimated $110 billion to develop ports and shipbuilding by 2020 as it aims to expand its overall ocean cargo-handling capacity to 3.2 billion tons and implement major reforms in the maritime sector.

The government’s 10-year plan, called the Maritime Agenda 2010-2020, was released Thursday in New Delhi by Shipping Minister G.K. Vasan.

“We want to bring our ports at par with the best international ports in terms of performance and capacity,” Vasan said.

By The Numbers: U.S. Container Trade With India.

The minister said the plan replaces the current $30-billion National Maritime Development Program, which was launched in 2007 and slated to end in March 2012.

The new plan calls for a total investment of $66 billion in the port sector and the remainder in the shipping segment, with the private sector expected to contribute the major chunk. “We want to increase India’s share in global shipbuilding to 5 percent from the current 1 percent,” Vasan said.

Under the plan, the ministry plans to set up two new major ports -- one each on the east and west coasts -- and upgrade four of the existing 13 ports -- Jawaharlal Nehru (Nhava Sheva) and Cochin on the west coast, and Chennai and Visakhapatnam on the east coast -- into major maritime hubs.

“All major ports will be required to have draft of not less than 14 meters and hub ports 17 meters,” the minister said.

He also said the ministry is working on a new land policy for major ports and will appoint a common regulator to administer the entire port sector. Currently, the Tariff Authority for Major Ports approves tariffs for major ports, while non-major ones have the freedom to fix their service rates.

Indian ports handled 845 million tons of cargo in fiscal 2009-10 ended March 31, 2010. Based on government estimates, seaborne trade is likely to reach 2.5 billion tons by 2020.