Anticipating higher demand for energy leading to increased import of coal and oil and container volumes in the years to come, Government proposes to set up two new major ports, one each in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, Shipping Minister G K Vasan said today.
"During this financial year, the Ministry of Shipping will initiate the process to get Union Cabinet approval for establishing the two ports," Mr Vasan said, inaugurating the National Conclave on Shipping, organised by the Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO).
A target has been set for award of projects for creation of 244 million tonnes of capacity spread across 42 projects at an estimated cost of Rs 14,500 crore in 2012-13, he said.
Mr Vasan said the extension of tax-free bond scheme for one year to raise funds of Rs 5,000 crore for various projects and reduction in the rate of withholding tax on interest payments on external commercial borrowings from 20 per cent to five per cent for three years would provide impetus to port sector.
He said efforts would also be made to get Cabinet clearance for the Shipping Trade Practices Bill, which seeks to bring transparency and uniformity in the way the maritime logistical trade practices are carried out in India.
Observing that a comprehensive Land Policy aimed at optimal use of land was issued in 2010, Mr Vasan said the Policy was being revised further to bring in more transparency.
Mr Vasan said the capacity of Indian ports went up to more than 1,200 million tonnes by March 31 this year from about 1,100 million tonnes per annum at the end of the previous financial year.
Award and implementation of projects to create additional capacity at Indian ports have been affected by factors such as security clearance of bidders, environment clearance, land acquisition and litigation, he said, adding that his ministry was in touch with all agencies concerned to clear bottlenecks.
The Shipping Ministry has recently come out with new guidelines to streamline processing of security clearance proposals expeditiously without compromising on security aspects, he said.
Country's external trade, as a proportion of GDP has more than doubled in the last 10 years and was close to 40 per cent and bulk of this international trade was carried through shipping, he said.
"We also expect that in future, high demand for energy will result in increased import of coal and oil. Similarly the container volumes in India are expected to witness high growth in the years to come", he said.
Mr Vasan, who reviewed the progress of the Rs 600 crore Chennai-Ennore Port road connectivity project, said it was expected to be completed by July next year.