(iii) Granting infrastructure status to the industry
While these would offer a short term solace to big-ticket port projects adversely affected by procedural and approval delays over the last 2 years, the ASSOCHAM President recommended the Government to shape a longer term strategy towards the sector and recommended the following initiatives.
Togetherness in development:
Private and public sector need to partner to create capacities in the sector. A PPP-based policy to encourage port development and management needs to be carved via BOOT (Build Own Operate Transfer) structures.
Give Tariff freedom:
To generate ample private sector interest, there is a need to introduce market-linked tariff rates
Propel Trade & Industry:
Port development is bound to act as a propeller for export oriented industries. Coastal SEZs/investment regions/ clusters along the lines of Chinese model of coastal development must be incentivized
The Government has placed significant emphasis on developing tourism in a bid to build ?Brand India?. Keeping in mind high income and employment multipliers of the sector, a specialized policy for port-tourism can be carved out. Ports can be used to create state-to-state tourism circuits such as the Gujarat-Mumbai-Goa route.
Establish India as a Tidal Energy hub:
Among many firsts, Gujarat Government is developing India?s first tidal energy plant of 50 MWs. As a long term strategy to reduce dependence on coal and to meet future energy requirements, India needs to diversify its energy sources. At present, India has no policy on tidal energy. A clear policy along with clarity on tariffs and commercial development of tidal energy must be the focus of the new Government.
Tripartite development: Port-Road-Rail
To improve transit time and reduce congestion at ports, there is a need to complement port development with hinterland connectivity via a rail/road network.
With Roads, Shipping, Railways ministries coming under the aegis of a single Transport ministry, the development of the envisaged multi-modal transport system should be simpler
At present, most Indian ports suffer from capacity constraints, long turnaround time and poor productivity. The average TAT at Indian ports is between 2-5 days compared to 4-6 hours in other countries such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
Reforms in the sector need to be multi-dimensional to create synergies between port development on one hand with trade, industry, infrastructure, tourism and energy sectors on the other, to enable a strong revival in economic growth.