Union minister Nitin Gadkari said on Wednesday the Centre is targeting a net profit of Rs 2,500 crore from its 12 major ports in the next two years, while shipping and waterways would contribute at least 1 per cent to the country's GDP by March 2016.
The Road Transport, Highways and Shipping Minister said the government is going ahead with the port modernisation programme and his ministry will seek Cabinet nod on the same as it tries to tackle the opposition by trade unions to corporatisation plan for ports.
Gadkari also said major ports will add 100 million tonnes capacity by 2018 and have plans to spend about Rs 15,000 crore per annum.
"We have already received a report from expert committee by which we can change the existing law to implement modernisation of ports, increase their efficiency and to make our decision making process fast. We will give more power to port chairman and board and by which I feel that we will achieve the goal of corporatisation," Gadkari said addressing the media in Delhi.
He said the report is ready with the Ministry and "We are going to submit it to the Cabinet. After approval we will implement. Corporatisation is not ruled out (and) it is to be declared by the Finance Minister. It is on the agenda."
He said there is a stiff resistance from trade unions and some political parties so the government is amending the Major Ports Act but it would be ensured that the interest of workers is not compromised.
"The country's 12 major ports will add at least Rs 1,000 crore to their net profit in the next two years and add 100 million tonnes of capacity," the Minister said.
The 12 major ports at present have the cumulative net profit of about Rs 1,500 crore. Secretary Shipping Rajive Kumar said both 12 major ports and about 200 minor ports taken together plan to take their capacity by 2,000 MT by 2018. The present capacity of ports is about 1,400 MT.
Gadkari said massive steps are underway to overhaul the shipping sector as the government plans to make waterways as its focus for transportation of goods and cargo to propel the GDP growth.
"Shipping and Waterways will contribute at least 1 per cent to India's GDP by March 2016," Gadkari said adding 104 projects have been started at ports and 7,500 km of coastal area could be instrumental in jacking up the economic growth.
He said steps were under way to reduce the turnaround time for ships to two days from an average of four days to enhance efficiency and all ports have been directed to implement plans matching with best international ports.
"Big ships had to wait for 8 days at Paradip. We had appointed an international agency and average turnaround time will be reduced to two days from four days," he said.
He said efforts are on to deepening the draft at ports to 20 metres so that big ships of over 2 lakh tonnes could come and accordingly Goa Port has floated tenders for deepening the draft to 18 metres on PPP model.
This will result in additional cargo handling and the port can charge royalty over saving per tonne, he said adding dredging work was on at other major ports too.
The 12 major ports would generate 200 MW green power including 150 MW through rooftop solar panels, Gadkari said adding smart cities will be set up near these ports which would house modern hospitals, school and other amenities besides water recycling plant as the water from ports was polluting the sea.
Work is also underway for the 1,620-km Varanasi to Halida waterway and the land has been already acquired for three multi modal hubs at Haldia in West Bengal, Sahebganj in Jharkhand and Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh, he said adding these projects are likely to begin soon.
Also, he said that for 13 power projects along Ganga, coal would now be transported through the river and goods can directly be exported to Bangladesh through waterways.
Gadkari said his Ministry has set up a Railway Port Connectivity Corporation, which has already received 24 projects worth Rs 4,000 crore and work is likely to begin on the same by December.
On encroachment of Kolkata Port Trust land, he said the Ministry had got the encroachment removed but that has been encroached again as it could not get the protection from the police there but efforts are on to tackle the issue.
Gadkari said maritime sector has vast employment potential and the government with this view has been opening its new branches in various States.
"Our 6.5 lakh youth are currently engaged on foreign flags and this sector has huge potential for employment generation. New branches will equip youth for job opportunities," he said.
India has 12 major ports - Kandla, Mumbai, JNPT, Marmugao, New Managlore, Cochin, Chennai, Ennore, VO Chidambarnar, Visakhapatnam, Paradip and Kolkata (including Haldia)- which handle approximately 61 per cent of cargo traffic.