The Indian government has announced that it will invest Rs 800 crore (US$118m) for the development of new ports and ongoing work on its National Waterways project during the next fiscal year.
The country’s finance minister Arun Jaitley said in a speech presenting the 2016-17 fiscal budget that the government has plans to develop new greenfield ports on both the country’s coasts.
As Jaitley added, work on the National Waterways project, which proposes to “have national waterways covering the entire nation just like national highways”, is being “expedited”.
Earlier this year, India’s Transport minister Nitin Gadkari said that the government would build three new major ports in the country – at Colachel in Tamil Nadu, Sagar in West Bengal and Dahanur, Wadhwad in Maharashtra.
Jaitley added in his speech that the SagarMala project, which aims to promote port-led development along India’s 7500 km coastline, “has already been rolled out” and the government started to modernise the country’s existing ports and increase their efficiency.
Additionally, Jaitley announced that the Indian Customs Single Window Project, which is expected to integrate regulatory requirements on one common platform, will be implemented at major ports and airports starting from the beginning of the next financial year.
Gautam Adani, chairman of the Adani group and long-standing supporter of India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said in a tweet that the budget is growth oriented, adding that the focus on infrastructure will provide impetus for enhanced growth and in turn generate employment.
However, Prahlad Tanwar, director for transport and logistics at consultancy KPMG, told local media that the budget speech failed to make reference to any immediate initiatives, particularly with regard to ‘first and last mile’ connectivity at key ports.
Anil Singh, managing director and senior vice president of DP World, said: “We were expecting an announcement of the intention to move towards a market determined tariff and end of tariff regulation in the major port sector. A level playing field would give this sector the necessary fillip and we hope this will happen soon.”