Union Shipping Minister Sarbananda Sonowal on Monday said West Bengal has an investment opportunity of Rs 1 trn in the port and logistics sector.
He was optimistic about garnering greater interest from domestic and international investors in the 2023 edition of the Global Maritime India Summit.
The minister was speaking at the Kolkata roadshow for the summit, which will be held between October 17 and 19 in New Delhi.
Sonowal, the union minister for ports, shipping and waterways, is expecting participation from over 100 countries in the ensuing event and a higher number of delegates than the previous 2021 edition of the summit.
In the conference two years ago, 475 MoUs were signed worth Rs 3.5 trn, the minister said.
He also stated that 75 per cent of the MoUs are "under implementation".
The minister stressed the need to unlock investment opportunities in India's maritime sector from both domestic and overseas.
He noted that the country has a policy of 100 per cent foreign direct investment through automatic routes for projects related to the construction and maintenance of ports and harbours.
During the roadshow for the event, he said the public-private partnership (PPP) has played a pivotal role in the development of India's ports.
Currently, PPP terminals are handling around 50 per cent of cargo at major ports, he said.
"West Bengal has the potential for an investment opportunity of Rs 1 trn in the port and logistics sector and the state should take advantage of this opportunity. This will create huge employment and thus I call upon you to participate in this developmental journey," Sonowal told the delegates.
Syama Prasad Mookerjee Port, Kolkata (SMPK) Chairman Rathendra Raman said the riverine port will showcase projects worth Rs 5,000 crore at the summit.
Under the Sagarmala scheme, projects worth Rs 12,000 crore have been proposed for West Bengal, the minister said.
The total cost of the Sagarmala project is over Rs 5.5 trn, and it aims at developing India's waterways and coastal areas.
Around 230 projects worth Rs 1.2 trn had already been executed, while 260 projects worth Rs 2.3 trn are under various stages of construction, and the rest is under tendering process, Sagarmala Joint Secretary from the Ministry of Port and Shipping Bhushan Kumar said.
Sonowal highlighted the growth in the ports and maritime sector, with a 102 per cent rise in Major Ports' capacity from 800 to 1,617 million tonne.
He said that the 2023 maritime summit will witness the convergence of global players, policymakers, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders who are integral to the growth of the industry.
The event will foster meaningful partnerships and drive innovation in the maritime sector.
Adani Ports and SEZ CEO (Ports) Subrat Tripathy lauded measures taken by the government and said this led to "tremendous growth" in the sector.
He urged the ports to consider the concession period to be increased to 50 years from the average of 30 years now for better investment and funding planning.
Speaking at the roadshow event, GRSE chairman and managing director Cmde PR Hari sought shipbuilding assistance from the government to extend to warships and demanded the requirement of a national shipbuilding framework.
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