Terming port development crucial for economy, the Economic Survey 2018-19 Thursday said the government has accorded topmost priority for capacity augmentation of the sector through initiatives like Sagarmala.
Ports handle around 90 per cent of EXIM Cargo by volume and 70 per cent by value.
"Port sector development is very crucial for the development of any economy…In order to meet the ever increasing trade requirements, expansion of Port Capacity has been accorded the highest priority with implementation of well-conceived infrastructure development projects like sagarmala, project Unnati etc," the Economic Survey, tabled by Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in Parliament, said.
As per the Port Performance Benchmarking & Performance Index published by Logistics Data Bank for February, 2019, Gateway Terminals India is in the top performing category and International Container Transhipment Terminal, Kochi in the low performing category, the survey said.
Towards facilitating Ease of Doing Business, the shipping ministry has identified various parameters for reducing dwell time and transaction costs at the major ports, which include elimination of manual forms, accommodation for laboratories to participating government agencies, direct port delivery, installation of container scanners, e-delivery orders, radio frequency identification-based gate-automation System, etc, it added.
These initiatives have already been implemented at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust and are being taken up at other major ports, the survey pointed out.
Stressing that "shipping plays a pivotal role in India’s trade dynamics", it said, "As on January 31, 2019, India had a fleet strength of 1,405 ships with dead weight tonnage (DWT) of 19.22 million (12.74 million GT) including Indian controlled tonnage, with Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) having the largest share of around 30.52 per cent. Of this, around 458 ships of 17.58 million DWT (11.26 million GT) cater to India’s overseas trade and the rest to coastal trade".
India had a fleet strength of 1,400 vessels with gross registered tonnage (GRT) of 12.68 million in 2018, as compared to fleet strength of 1,371 vessels with 12.35 million GRT at the end of December 2017.
About the Inland Water Transport, the survey said India s first inland waterway multimodal terminal (MMT) at Varanasi was inaugurated in November last year by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the first container consignment on Ganga, which had sailed from Kolkata, was received at Varanasi MMT on the same day.
"The main focus of MMT is to promote inland waterways as it is cheap and environment friendly. To enhance the access and establish alternative connectivity to the North East through Indo-Bangladesh Protocol route, dredging works between Ashuganj and Zakiganj, and Sirajganj and Daikhawa in Bangladesh through 80:20 sharing (80 per cent by India and 20 per cent by Bangladesh) have been awarded," it said.
In October 2018, a Standard Operating Procedure of MoU on Passenger and Cruise service on the Coastal and Protocol routes between India and Bangladesh has been signed to enhance bilateral movement of passengers /tourists.
The cargo traffic on National Waterways was 55 million tonnes in 2017-18 and has increased by 31 per cent in 2018-19.
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