To bolster port development, the Centre plans to set up a Railway Corporation exclusively to build rail connectivity to 12 major ports.
"We are going to set up a Railway Corporation, which can be important for connectivity of ports. Our proposal to the Cabinet is that every port will have some equity in the company," Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari told PTI.
Profits earned by ports vary as some have Rs 200 crore in profit while the others have Rs 400 crore, he said, adding that "they will contribute accordingly, it is just a viable way".
Gadkari said shipping sector development would be his utmost priority.
"We want to give the highest priority to shipping sector. We have already taken a decision that we are going to increase the capacity of our ports," he said.
India has 12 major ports - Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Mangalore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, V O Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia) which handle approximately 61 per cent of the country's total cargo traffic.
After connectivity with ports, the Railway Corporation would ensure "goods traffic by railway," he said.
The development comes in the wake of ports facing problems in rail connectivity.
The Railway Corporation, once set up, will implement all planned rail links to these 12 ports.
Gadkari said the shipping sector and inland waterways were crucial and a new Bill which will vest power with the Shipping Ministry for converting any river into waterway was ready.
Waterways would be a much cheaper mode of transport, barely costing 50 paise for a km in comparison to Re 1 by railway and Rs 1.5 through highways, he said.
He said apart from augmenting ports capacity his Ministry has already taken a decision to build two dry ports - one in Aurangabad and the other in Vidarbha.