Sonowal asks ports to prepare a masterplan to become mega ports by 2047

Union Minister for Ports, Shipping and Waterways Sarbananda Sonowal on Tuesday while concluding the three-day long Chintan Baithak of the Ministry of Ports, Shipping and Waterways (MoPSW) asked all ports to prepare a master plan to become Mega Ports by 2047.

Organized to discuss and deliberate ideas and innovations that can propel India’s blue economy, the ‘Chintan Baithak’ was co-chaired by Shripad Yesso Naik and Shantanu Thakur, Ministers of State for Ports, Shipping, and Waterways, and attended by Chairpersons of all major ports, and Senior Officials of MoPSW, for brainstorming on promoting India’s marine economy.

The Chintan Baithak witnessed deliberation on various innovative projects undertaken by them such as Buffer Parking Yard for Container Trailers, Smart Vessel Traffic Management System, 5G Network Pilot Project, Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) System for Oil Pipeline Operations, Automated Vehicle Scanning, RFID Scanning Of Personnel, Drone Surveillance, Green Warehousing System, Rejuvenation of Water bodies, etc.

This three-day meeting was divided into various sessions with exclusive themes focusing on various aspects and prospects of the shipping industry along with the role to be played by the MoPSW in the nation’s development.

‘Implementation of New Tariff Guidelines for existing projects and Ongoing Projects’, among the first sessions of the meet pondered the issue of tariff fixation of existing BOT operators. While the session on ‘Ensuring level playing field amongst New and Existing Concessionaires in Context of New MCA’ discussed the challenges brought by New MCA 2021 bringing in tariff dynamism based on market rates thereby resulting in a non-level playing field for old players.

The session on ‘Integration of IWT, Coastal and Exim Transport’ charted out the potential benefits of improving Port Cargo via Coastal and Inland Waterways Transport in terms of cost savings and emission reduction. Through a concerted effort by central and state governments, coastal and IWT can become complementing modes with Rail and Road Transport.

During the Chintan Baithak, the spotlight also focused on ‘New Generation Automated Technologies’ wherein the application of various cutting-edge technologies such as drone surveillance, Internet of things, Artificial Intelligence, etc, can significantly improve operations at Indian Ports.

The increasing competitiveness in the port sector and the positioning of major ports versus the non-major ports in India were also discussed via a presentation on Steps to be taken to compete with private/non-major ports

Mr. Sonowal asked the major ports to draft land policy guidelines and explore the potential of satellite presence out of port limits. To make SPVs more efficient and effective, the Minister directed the officials to repurpose the SPVs to make them lean and agile towards achieving the desired objectives.

He also insisted on enhancing the operational performance of the Dredging Corporation of India and the importance of multimodal connectivity.

To help increase the overall port performance, Mr. Sonowal suggested all the ports develop an independent feedback mechanism to identify gaps and resolve them in consultation with all the stakeholders. It also proposed 100 percent financial assistance for developing dedicated coastal berths at ports through the Sagarmala program and offering more berths in PPP mode.

All ports must explore ways of adopting the intervention of VHF technology at their ports, the minister suggested. The Green Ports Policy was also discussed, which will apply to all the major and non-major ports of India. The draft policy also suggested port authorities explore the option of project financing through multi-lateral development banks/other financial institutions/any green financing agencies.

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